As Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams sits down with Telkom over the potential retrenchment of up to 3 000 employees, the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) has called for the JSE-listed group’s board to be axed.
In a statement on Friday, Fedusa slammed Telkom’s “gross leadership failure over the last five years and a lack of strategic direction and planning” after the information and communications technology group embarked on a Section 189 consultation process earlier this week.
On Wednesday, Telkom notified unions of its intention to start retrenchments as it battled organisational and operational inefficiencies related to a declining performance in fixed voice and fixed data services.
Reuters earlier reported that Telkom would consider voluntary severance and early retirement packages for employees affected by phase one of the job cuts, which will affect employees at Openserve and the consumer divisions from January to April.
Following this, Ndabeni-Abrahams voiced her concern and scheduled an urgent meeting with Telkom to be “fully briefed on the matter”.
Fedusa requested government’s intervention and called for the dismissal of the board.
Government owns a 39% stake in Telkom.
“Fedusa is outraged with the latest development, as Telkom has clearly proved its lack of strategic direction, operational efficiency and technological innovation, by scoring a further own goal in this very matter when its market share and infrastructure remained top class just a few years ago,” the federation said in a statement.
Solidarity, meanwhile, requested a moratorium on forced retrenchments.
“Solidarity is requesting that an aggressive retraining programme be implemented during the moratorium so workers can be equipped with new skills to help Telkom grow in the fast-changing information environment. Telkom workers must move forward with the company from fixed line services to mobile services,” explained Solidarity CEO Dr Dirk Hermann in a statement on Thursday.
“A further 3 000 jobs being cut are too many. If staff numbers need to be reduced further, it can be done by means of voluntary processes and natural staff turnover,” he continued, pointing out that Telkom’s workforce had previously been reduced by 2 176, or 12.5%, through voluntary severance packages.