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Jun 10, 2008

Telkom unions call for thorough investigation into restructuring plans

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Three trade unions representing up to 70% of Telkom staff, on Tuesday said that they would not engage in any further negotiations until the fixed-line operator agreed to undertake a thorough investigation into its restructuring outsourcing plans, and signed a no-job-loss agreement with the unions.

"Such an agreement will give employees the peace of mind that changes to the company will not result in retrenchments," the Communication Workers' Union (CWU), Solidarity and the South Africa Communications Union (Sacu) commented in a joint media statement.

They stated that the unions would oppose the restructuring of Telkom if it would lead to job losses.

The unions were also in the process of conducting an investigation to determine the effects of the planned restructuring. The investigation would look at ways in which the restructuring would affect the telecommunications industry. The findings would be submitted to the telecommunications regulating authority Icasa.

The unions stated that Telkom's deadline for finalisation of approval for the restructuring, which it wanted to achieve by August, would not be reached, as more time would be needed to weigh the pros and cons of the process.

"If Telkom's plans are approved, more than 90% of jobs in the company will be affected," said the unions.

Telkom media liaison for corporate communications, Pynee Chetty, on Tuesday afternoon said Telkom and the unions were still in a meeting.

However, in response to questions asked regarding whether it would sign a no-job-loss agreement with the unions, he said that Telkom, in its 2008 financial year presentation booklet had indicated that, "sustained employability and wellbeing of Telkom staff is of paramount importance".

The restructuring would be rolled out over two years.

Solidarity said, in May this year, that Telkom planned to outsource about 90% of its activities through the restructuring process, which would affect about 19 000 jobs.

Telkom responded that the restructuring process would seek to achieve new ways of improving business for the benefit of the customers.

"Capability management is not about employees per se but about responding to a rapidly changing ICT business landscape (ie converged environment) not only with a view to remaining competitive but also extracting efficiencies in our business processes...from Telkom's perspective, outsourcing is but an element of the broader capability management strategy," chief of human resources Charlotte Mokoena said at the time.

Telkom CEO, Reuben September, on Monday, during the operator's financial results presentation in Johannesburg commented that its capability management strategy was not about head-count reduction.

"This will transform the company to be agile, to be responsive to market conditions and developments, and to be cost-effective," said September.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb
Creamer Media Senior Researcher and Deputy Editor Online
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