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Temporary court order stops Telkom retrenchments

By Gugu Lourie

The Labour Court on Wednesday has granted an interim order preventing Telkom, South Africa’s largest fixed-line telephone group, from going ahead with its retrenchment process.

The application, which was heard in the Labour Court in Johannesburg, was lodged on Tuesday by Solidarity Union after Telkom “disregarded the agreement with trade unions with regard to restructuring processes”, according to Solidarity.

The Labour Court in Johannesburg on Wednesday decided in Solidarity’s favour, ruling that Telkom’s restructuring and retrenchment process be stopped.

Judge David Gush further ordered Telkom to retract its restructuring and retrenchment notice. Furthermore, trade unions must refer a dispute regarding the interpretation and application of the collective agreement within five days. A cost order was also granted in favour of Solidarity against Telkom.

Solidarity Deputy General Secretary Johan Kruger says the court order signals a clear message against unfair restructuring processes.

“This judgment is a victory for Telkom workers who are regularly being subjected to restructuring processes. Solidarity will do everything in its power to ensure that Telkom abide by the court order and follow the correct procedures,” Kruger said.

Solidarity last week approached the court with an urgent application for an interdict against Telkom’s planned restructuring and retrenchments. This came after Telkom had ignored an agreement on restructuring processes it had concluded with trade unions in 2008.

In terms of this agreement, Telkom has to meet with trade unions and reach a settlement before the company may embark on a restructuring process. Although the unions had declared a dispute with Telkom on 19 June over the planned retrenchments, Telkom carried on to issue a section 189 retrenchment notice to trade unions on 22 June.

This latest restructuring process at Telkom may lead to the retrenchment of up to 4 400 employees while a further 3 400 may be transferred to other companies.

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