Telkom irked at Solidarity for playing race card

Telkom is furious over reports about Solidarity union allegations that race will be one of the factors considered by the country’s biggest fixed-line telephone group on its restructuring process, which include retrenchments.

Telkom’s plans include reducing its workforce by 4 400 through Voluntary Severance Packages and Voluntary Early Retirement Packages. Earlier this year, 724 employees have already accepted packages.

If this new target is not met, forced retrenchments will follow in July to attain the desired number. Another approximately 3 200 permanent employees will be transferred to other companies.

Solidarity alleged in a statement on Monday that Telkom indicated in a section 189 notice to trade unions that employment equity will be one of the selection criteria during the restructuring process. “If Telkom proceeds with this, it will mean that white employees will bear the brunt of the telecommunication giant’s retrenchment process,” the union said.

However, spokesperson of Telkom, Jacqui O’Sullivan on Tuesday said: “The inflammatory and misleading inference by Solidarity that race is the key selection criterion and that white employees will be targeted, is unequivocally rejected. It’s regrettable that Solidarity has chosen to play the race card again, in the context of a process that needs to address critical challenges that the company is facing.

“Telkom would prefer to focus on the consultation that it has been initiated and will take place within the structured LRA process, rather than pursuing media headlines with misleading hyperbole.”

The company said in its notice issued to the unions in terms of section 189 of the LRA, Telkom proposed that “LIFO (Last in First Out) subject to the retention of scarce and critical skills and where applicable, employment equity considerations” be used as the selection criteria.

As with any company, Telkom looks at a number of employment criteria in deciding to bring people into the company or to retain them during times of change.

“Most importantly, we are a technology company so our people must be equipped with the necessary skills to perform the required body-of-work. They would also be required to have the correct qualifications and training and importantly, the necessary aptitude and attitude to be a part of the Telkom of the future,”said O’Sullivan.



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