Organised labour has declared a formal dispute with Telkom, as a consequence of the latest round of talks regarding the proposed Telkom 2.0 restructure affecting primarily the Wholesale & Networks and Centre for Learning environments.

Telkom has issued the following statement on the process: “Telkom has undertaken a number of engagements with organised labour, following the Restructuring Forum of 9 June 2015, where Telkom’s leadership shared the company’s plans for functional restructuring. Telkom has sought to collaborate with unions through the setting up of working groups, to explore additional potential options to mitigate the expected staff impact within the Telkom Wholesale business and other affected areas.

“As a result of the restructuring, Telkom has approached organised labour with options for voluntary severance packages (VSPs) and voluntary early retirement packages (VERPs). Telkom is also intending to outsource some skills to other companies, thereby avoiding job losses. Telkom will also  make use of its R100 million FutureMakers enterprise and supplier development fund to establish businesses with outgoing Telkom staff, whom would then be well-placed to contract their services back to both Telkom, as well as other companies.

“Despite a number of meetings over the past two weeks, Telkom and the Communication Workers Union, Solidarity and South Africa Communications Union have been unable to reach agreement on a process to progress this critical next step in Telkom’s multi-year turnaround programme, and organised labour have declined to accept the offer of opening VSPs & VERPs across the impacted areas of the business.

“For this reason, engagements have been halted and Telkom will be approaching the Centre for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to facilitate further engagements. The progression to the CCMA implies a formal, facilitated consultation process in accordance with the Labour Relations Act.  As a consequence, thus Telkom will be proceeding with the issuing of a Section 189 notices for the areas affected by the Telkom 2.0 turnaround programme.”

Jacqui O’Sullivan, Telkom managing executive of group communication, comments: “We are disappointed that all parties involved have not been able to make meaningful progress with the discussions. We had hoped to further interrogate the options we have put on the table, to mitigate the impact these changes will have on many of our people but with discussions stalled, we believe the involvement of the CCMA is the correct and necessary next step.”