Another wage strike looms at Telkom!


Solidarity and the SA Communications Union (Sacu) received certificates of non-resolution from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration yesterday after another round of wage increase negotiations failed on Friday.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has not yet been issued with a certificate.

Wage increments at Telkom, one of the country’s largest employers with more than 20 000 staff, should have been implemented in April but have dragged on as the employer and bargaining unit members have been unable to reach an agreement.

The latest offer that has angered the unions is Telkom’s proposal of a 6 percent pay hike over three years but with the potential to subject higher-salary bracket earners to a pay freeze over the period.

A Telkom spokesman said yesterday that it was unable to comment on its offer out of respect for unions that still had to communicate the company’s position to their constituencies before the company could share the details publicly.

Michael Hare, the president of Sacu, said: “Our main dispute is that instead of giving inflationary increases they are instead pegging certain salary bands. To fund this new model they want us to forego increases in the third year.

“This is one of the many ways they feel they can close wage disparities. It is unfair for the company to take from the inflation-linked budget to address these disparities.”

Hare added that Sacu planned to launch lunchtime pickets at Telkom’s head office in Pretoria and its other strategic office in Cape Town.

He said that Telkom had promised to pay a once-off fee to high-income earners in the third year of the salary deal but the company’s financial position three years hence was uncertain. While employees currently received guaranteed salary increments, Telkom also wanted to change that to performance-based increases.

Marius Croucamp, the head of telecoms at Solidarity, said the disparities were a “product of [previous] management” and those likely to be affected by adjustments were top performers rewarded previously, and people who had intended to resign but were paid a retention incentive. These included individuals whose voluntary severance package applications were declined and they were incentivised because their skills were essential to Telkom.

Clyde Marvin, the CWU deputy president, said: “We are currently consulting members on the negotiated process on salary increase and salary disparities. The national executive committee will meet to assess the current negotiations and will thereafter pronounce the organisational decision.”

Meanwhile, the Competition Tribunal will hear arguments today, on the settlement agreement between Telkom and the Competition Commission. The complaints were lodged between 2005 and 2007 by internet service providers. The commission found that Telkom had engaged in margin squeeze.

The complaint was referred to the tribunal in 2009. The settlement agreement includes an admission of guilt, a R200 million fine that Telkom will pay over three years and functional separation between Telkom’s wholesale and retail business, among other considerations.

According to the Competition Act, Telkom must confirm the settlement in order for it to be enforceable.


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