Union vows to fight Telkom’s “outrageous retrenchment plan”

Communications Workers Union (CWU) general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said they would fight Telkom’s plan to retrench 15% of its workforce.

The CWU, together with the South African Communication Union (SACU), jointly represent the majority of Telkom’s workforce.

Yesterday, Telkom announced that it would begin formal proceedings to restructure the company in terms of section 189 of the Labour Relations Act.

Telkom expects the retrenchments to impact up to 15% of employees across the company, which places 1,768 staff at risk.

Telkom CEO Serame Taukobong told employees that drastic measures are needed to improve the group’s earnings.

Taukobong added that pressure on the company’s margins is aggravated by continued load-shedding and low levels of economic growth.

“I am conscious of how unsettling these times can be as we try to work through the consultative processes and continue to service our customers and clients as best we can,” he said.

Tshabalala slated Telkom’s retrenchment plan, saying it is outrageous and follows a trend where the operator cuts staff every two years.

“The continued retrenchments since 2014 show that Telkom’s management is unable to turn the company around,” he said.

“Former CEO Sipho Maseko’s strategy has always been the disposal of assets and cutting jobs to create an artificial profit.”

This strategy, Tshabalala said, has shrunk Telkom from being a giant in the African telecommunications market to a much smaller, me-too operator.

He added that Telkom is underplaying how many staff members will be cut. Together with Telkom subsidiaries like BCX and Gyro, Tshabalala said over 2,000 employees face retrenchments.

The CWU general secretary said they would oppose the planned job cuts and stop the trend where Telkom retrenches staff every two years.

“Unless we fight it, I can guarantee you that we will sit in the same position again in 2025 with Telkom announcing new job cuts,” Tshabalala said.