Numsa Initially Barred from Participating

The latest developments in the jobs bloodbath in South Africa has been at Telkom has seen the company begin it’s process to retrench 3000 workers, twenty per cent of the workforce. The process is being carried out through a series of discussions where Telkom; Communication Workers Union (CWU); Solidarity and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) form part. The National Union of Mineworkers in South Africa (Numsa) was not invited by volution despite the fact that in the electronics sector it represents a number of workers.

The Information Communication Technology Union (ICTU) covering the sector, an affiliate of the South African Federation of Trade Unions along with Numsa, issued a statement lambasting the telecommunications giant. ICTU called the proceedings as null and void, referencing Section 189(1)(A) of the Labour Relations Act.

The section provides that before retrenching, bosses must consult with all parties to a collective agreement. A decision which would affect certain workers whose voice was not represented by virtue of Numsa’s absence is being considered in the proceedings.

ICTU said that the involuntary and late invitation of Numsa to the proceedings is an “underhand tactic to frustrate and suffocate unions from meaningful participation”. The union also strongly spoke against the strategy followed by the bosses at the telecoms company. The company’s strategy is the reason for the dramatic drop in the share price at Telkom, according to the statement.

For this reason, the union has called for the resignations of bosses at the company, as well as the termination of the R91 million contract awarded to Bain & Company, a U.S. company, and other reports further showed that another R200 million was spent on the same firm through a subsidiary of Telkom.   

The Telkom retrenchments currently ongoing at Telkom Centre for Learning, Olifantsfontein, is only one of a number of job cuts that have characterised developments in the South African economy, a trend that has ironically intensified following the ruling party’s promises during elections; and Ramaphosa’s Thuma Mina campaign; to create 2 million jobs if elected. The Edcon group has also retrenched workers, seeking the sympathy of the state saying if there is no bailout a massive 140, 000 jobs would be shed; while Massmart has also announced it will be shutting down 30 branches resulting in job losses.

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