Telkom has dismissed claims made by the South African Communications Union (Sacu) that it is planning to cut 9, 500 of its 19,000 employees and says the group is not targeting a specific number in its retrenchment process.
Sacu released a statement on Monday (7 July) claiming that Telkom is planning to cut their workforce in half in the next six months and threatened to take the fixed-line operator to court over the move but Telkom has outright dismissed the claim.
According to Telkom spokesman Pynee Chetty, “The company is not targeting specific numbers of individuals. The aim is reduce the number of management layers and achieve an employee cost-revenue ratio of 25% over the next five years.”
Telkom has also taken some heat from labour union Solidarity over allegations that they will use race as a deciding factor in retrenchments. The union’s industry head, Marius Croucamp, has said it would be unlawful to do so.
“This issue is of such importance to Solidarity that we will take it as far as the Constitutional Court. These practices will open a door for employers to achieve demographic representivity and BEE through retrenchment,” said Croucamp.
Telkom has responded that employment equity is only one of the criteria which will be applied to retrenchment decisions. The other criteria include, qualification and experience, best fit for the job, and last one in, first one out, which will be applied when more than one employee qualifies for a position.
Telkom aims to save R5 Billion in staff costs over the short to medium term and reduce the number of management layers between customers and top level employees to create an organisation where leadership is closer to customer issues.
Consumer satisfaction has become an urgent priority for the company which has a long history of customer service problems. For the first time, customer service is being embedded in all employee contracts and will influence how they are rewarded. There is also a focus on making products easier to understand and addressing the technical challenges consumers face with broadband.
In the business market they are focusing on providing more complex value-adding services, especially in IT. Telkom’s recent R2.7bn bid to buy services company Business Connexion reportedly forms a cornerstone of this plan.