In the wake of media reports that South African mobile operator Cell C plans to retrench about 150 workers from their 16 000 workforce, a company employee reportedly committed suicide after receiving notice of his retrenchment.Trade union Solidarity raised the fact that the employee committed suicide, and called on the mobile operator to stop the retrenchment process and hold talks with the various unions on how to effectively organise the process, and consult with members who might be affected.
“The union said it spoke to the man’s family. They believe he was pushed over the edge by the possibility of losing his job,” Eyewitness News wrote.
Solidarity spokesperson Marius Croucamp lambasted the operator for not holding talks with the unions regarding the possible retrenchments.
“Trade unions play a crucial role in retrenchments. Solidarity follows a set plan of action in terms of which certain guidelines and methods are applied to minimise the effects of retrenchments and possibilities are explored to avert retrenchments,” Croucamp told The Mail & Guardian.
Croucamp added that Cell C acted too quickly in implementing the planned layoffs, without taking into consideration of the emotional pain it might cause.
“Cell C apparently acted hastily in starting to consult with employees over the planned retrenchments and failed to take the emotional impact a retrenchment notice has on employees into consideration. We have seen a decline in the moral values in big corporates in the way they deal with people.”
Yesterday Cell C was reluctant to give further details saying only that they have not yet completed the process. “As we have not completed the consultation process with the affected staff, we are not in a position to provide any further information,” said Cell C’s executive head of communications, Karin Fourie.
“The objective of the restructuring process is to streamline the business, to bring the business closer to our customer base and to make it more competitive. We are focusing on the areas of the business that we believe are overstaffed,” she added.
Cell C denied that the employee who died was officially told that he would be retrenched.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor