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News : Telkom Layoffs of Call Centre Staff Raises Ire of Trade Unions
Jan 8, 2015 -- The Communications Workers Union (CWU) has challenged telecommunication firm Telkom’s restructuring plan saying it wanted to shed temporary jobs ahead of new legislation protecting them.
The Labour Relations Amendment Act came into effect on January 1 this year and limits the use of temporary contracts exceeding three months. It requires that such contracts be justified by the nature of the employment.
Last month, 480 contract call centre staff were escorted out of Telkom premises by security, with the company saying it would not renew contracts and despite some employees still scheduled to work until March. Telkom is in the midst of restructuring to cut costs and streamline operations. It said last year it would first target managerial staff in a bid to decrease its employee cost-to-revenue ratio from 30% to 25% over the next five years.
Another trade union, Solidarity, challenged the use of employment equity rules in the management restructuring. CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said this week that unions at Telkom would oppose the "unceremonious" expulsion of the call centre staff.
The matter had been referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.
Telkom spokeswoman Jacqui O’Sullivan said on Wednesday the affected staff members were informed in November that their contracts would not be renewed. Some of them were released earlier as the company had received threats to its infrastructure.
"The decision to not renew these contracts was taken in line with Telkom’s ongoing strategy of efficiencies and simplification," Ms O’Sullivan said. "Telkom has sufficient capacity within existing structures to manage queries and call volumes and therefore the additional resources were no longer required,.
"All relevant processes related to the temporary call centre agents have been concluded, thus further discussions on this particular matter, will not be required," she said.
Telkom is one of a number of information and communication technology firms looking to cut costs, citing tough economic conditions and increased competition.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Communications Workers Union:
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is a trade union in South Africa.
About Telkom South Africa:
Telkom SA SOC Ltd. is a wireline and wireless telecommunications provider in South Africa, and operating in more than 38 countries across the African continent. Telkom is a semi-privatised, 39% state-owned company.
Published: Friday, January 9, 2015