MAKING A POINT:  Communication Workers Union general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala, left, says the replacement of the ‘gain sharing’ incentive programme at Telkom disadvantaged its members. File picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
MAKING A POINT: Communication Workers Union general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala, left, says the replacement of the ‘gain sharing’ incentive programme at Telkom disadvantaged its members. File picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

TELKOM and MTN are facing the prospect of renewed industrial action led by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which has bemoaned impending job losses and changes that could result in the erosion of employee benefits.

The union on Wednesday vowed to intensify industrial action at Telkom over a range of salary-related disputes and a retrenchment moratorium. At MTN, the union is concerned about the company’s decision to implement a new operating model before giving temporary employees permanent status, as had been agreed in 2015.

MTN said it was outsourcing some of its call centres to a third party and planned to complete the process in September.

But the union’s general secretary, Aubrey Tshabalala, said the process could not continue until the employees were made permanent and their conversion should be backdated to August 2015, when the agreement was reached.

He said this would put the employees in a strong position when being outsourced to a third party as their salaries and benefits would have improved.

The union and MTN are expected to meet next week. The outsourcing will affect 980 employees, including 482 casual workers, said Tshabalala.

Ike Dube, MTN SA’s head of business risk, said the agreement that was reached did not apply to employees that were not employed by MTN.

Moreover, the deal further states that, if there are temporary employees employed by MTN who qualify for permanent employment in terms of the Labour Relations Act, MTN will abide by the rules.

He said MTN and the union had discussions about the company’s plans. While the parties had "differences regarding the proposed model" the union was "fully appraised of the strategy".

At Telkom, Tshabalala said the union was unhappy with the replacement of the "gain sharing" incentive programme with a performance-based one and the 6% annual salary increase. He said this disadvantaged its more than 4,000 members. "This is an erosion of workers’ benefits."

 

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Under the new scheme, called "performance pay", employees will be assessed on a monthly and, later, quarterly basis, and be compensated afterwards.

The agreement was signed in June with the South African Communications Union and Solidarity.

At that time, the CWU had in principle agreed to the new partnership agreement.

In addition to the incentive scheme, Tshabalala said the union was demanding an 11% annual salary increase and six months’ maternity leave.

He said the union members have been on strike since last week, after securing certification.

"The strike has entered its second week. Last week, the members were on a go-slow and doing lunch break protests.

"But we will embark on a massive protest," said Tshabalala.

Telkom spokeswoman Jacqui O’Sullivan said the union felt that the incentive scheme "does not address its members’ needs of a cost-of-living inflation-linked salary increase and it cannot recommend to its members to participate".

She said after months of discussions, "Telkom has decided it can no longer delay the opportunity for employees (including CWU members) to significantly enhance their monthly income" through the scheme, which was implemented last Monday.