Wed, 30 Sep 2020

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa has labelled the retrenchment process initiated by Telkom last week - which could affect thousands of employees - an attack on workers, adding that the union would join forces with other unions to fight it.

Telkom issued a notice in terms of Section 189A of the Labour Relations Act stating that it intended to cut some 3 000 jobs - nearly a third of its workforce - across multiple departments, as the company looks to streamline operations amid falling earnings and changing market conditions.

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) later expressed concern that this number could increase to 6 000 if outsourcing and additional job cuts at Telkom subsidiary Business Connexion were taken into account.

Telkom spokesperson Mooketsi Mocumi told Fin24 previously that while the company came to the decision to retrench, it was not able to confirm numbers. It would only have clarity on the final numbers once the consultation process with unions was complete.

According to Mocumi, the decision to enter initiate the Section 189 process was sparked by a weak economic environment and Telkom's declining performances in the fixed voice business, which previously made up more than half of Telkom's gross revenue. He said Telkom's fixed data also took a knock due to migration to mobile data.

Thursday's Numsa statement said the union's officials met with management on Wednesday as part of the Section 189 A consultation, after it announced the planned cuts.

"We share the concerns of other unions that the number could increase to at least 6 000 workers because of the impact that this will have on Telkom subsidiaries," the statement said.

Solidarity demands 'reckless' Telkom retrenchments be put on ice

The statement said the union did not trust the explanation that loss-making divisions were being scaled down, as subscriber customer base increased 75.5% to 11 million, but its fixed-voice and interconnection revenue fell by 19.1%.

"It is clear that the working class is being attacked on all fronts and therefore it is necessary for us to unite. In November last year Telkom recorded a revenue increase of 4.7% to R21.5 bn," said the statement.

The union said it expected the next meetings to take place on 5 and 6 February.

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