Thousands of jobs on the line as Telkom wields axe

A shopper walks past a Telkom shop at a mall in Johannesburg.
A shopper walks past a Telkom shop at a mall in Johannesburg.

JSE-listed telecoms company Telkom SA has served unions with letters regarding planned job cuts, a company spokesman said on Wednesday.

“Out of respect for our employees, we will share information once we have engaged further with our employees and unions,” Mooketsi Mocumi said in a WhatsApp response to questions.

Telkom SA said on Wednesday it could cut up to 3,000 jobs in its wholesale division Openserve, consumer unit as well as in its corporate centre.

In a letter to unions, seen by Reuters, Telkom said the planned job cuts will be managed in phases, with phase one starting from January to April.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said on Wednesday: "Yesterday [Tuesday], we were in a strategic meeting with the CEO.

"However that strategic session was reduced into a briefing session, where they told us how the voice business has dropped and that this compelled them to embark on a restructuring process," said CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala.

"This morning [Wednesday], while still trying to digest Tuesday's meeting, we received two letters ... from Telkom and Trudon, Telkom's subsidiary, which informed us of their plans to reduce the workforce."  Tshabalala said the union had still to respond to the letters.

He said there were processes that the employer still needed to fulfil in terms of the Labour Relations Act, such as informing the employees on the reason for the planned retrenchments.

Tshabalala said Telkom had proposed to meet next Wednesday and Thursday for consultations.

"We need to respond with a programme of action," he said, without elaborating. He said employees were bitter about this development, particularly as they had not had increases for a number of years.

He said the government was a major shareholder in Telkom and should not be seen to be at the forefront of retrenchments.