South Africa: Telkom struck down by illegal industrial action

Telkom successfully upgrades 96 per cent of prepaid fixed line customers.
Telkom successfully upgrades 96 per cent of prepaid fixed line customers.

Telkom
Over the past weeks Telkom customer’s have been unable to get through to the Telco’s call centre.

According to a statement released by Telkom, the company has revealed that it will proceed with the automatic transfer of staff from its call centre, supply chain and IT environments to new employers on 31 March after unions failed to secure a majority consensus on an additional offer from the company.

According to Telkom: “Persistent illegal industrial action in the form of “go-slows” at Telkom’s call centres also escalated this weekend, with incidents of staff intimidation and walk-outs being reported.”

“Our service levels have been under severe pressure for a number of weeks. We would like to apologise to all our customers for the poor service levels. We have brought additional staff into our already outsourced call centres and have increased our resourcing of the non-call centre customer options”, said Telkom spokesman, Jacqui O’Sullivan.

Over the past weeks Telkom customer’s have been unable to get through to the Telco’s call centre.  Telkom has now advised its customer’s, with internet access, to log a fault or use the chat service at via www.telkom.co.za. Alternatively, Telkom customer’s can SMS “service” to 30591 or email 10210@telkom.co.za in order to log faults.

According to Telkom, its discussions with organised labour, regarding the Section 197 process, has been underway for five weeks. SACU and Solidarity recently asked that Telkom make Voluntary Severance Packages (VSPs) and Voluntary Early Retirement Packages (VERPs) available to employees affected by Telkom’s current outsourcing initiative. Unions also requested that Telkom move the transfer date out from 31 March to 30 April.

Telkom agreed to both requests. Written acceptance of the offer was required from the unions by Friday afternoon. While Solidarity and the South African Communication Union (SACU) accepted Telkom’s offer ahead of the deadline, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) withheld the majority consent, which meant no agreement could be reached.

“Solidarity and SACU engaged very aggressively for their members and we believe the variation agreement was a reasonable middle ground for all parties. However, a majority consent is required and without such an agreement in place, we will have to proceed with the automatic transfers as planned at the end of this month”, O’Sullivan said.

Telkom’s Section 189 consultations, related to the closure of 20 nonviable Telkom Direct stores, continue today facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

Staff Writer