Unions gang up against Telkom
10/08/2004 19:07 - (SA)
Johannesburg - The three recognised trade unions at Telkom have united to fight retrenchments at the company, a statement said on Tuesday.
"Solidarity, the South African Communications Union (Sacu) and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) resolved in Centurion today to form an alliance against Telkom's plans to retrench more than 4 100 workers over the next three years," Solidarity's Dirk Hermann said in the statement.
"It was decided at the meeting that the retrenchments are to be opposed jointly in a trade union forum.
"The date on which the planned retrenchments were to take place must be postponed indefinitely, until the trade unions' commission of enquiry into the lay-offs has completed its work.
"The way is also being paved for court actions against Telkom to stop the retrenchments," Hermann added.
The trade unions achieved their first victory on Friday, when the CCMA's presiding commissioner, Afzal Mosam, announced that the last consultative meeting between the parties was to take place on September 13.
Telkom had planned to dismiss the first 1 381 workers as early as August 31, Hermann said.
In a separate statement, the CWU said it was planning a nationwide strike against Telkom's plans.
CWU president Joe Chauke said the union was not convinced by the telecommunication utility's rationale for retrenchments and Telkom was reneging on a promise not to embark on a large scale layoff after last year.
"We believe Telkom is behaving as an irresponsible corporate citizen by being insensitive to the socio-economic realities of our country," he told reporters in Johannesburg.
The CWU, which claimed to represent about 40% of Telkom's 32 000 employees, said the strike was scheduled for August 27.
Chauke said that early in July Telkom issued a notice that it would retrench 1 340 employees over a three-year period. The number increased to 4 000 on July 21.
In 1999 Telkom employed 61 237 workers. On June 30, this year, the number was 31 624.
Edited by Mahap Msiza
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