Union moves to ‘suspend’ Telkom strike

2016-09-09 11:44 - Gareth van Zyl, Fin24
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Telkom. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

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Johannesburg - The Communication Workers Union (CWU) says it has suspended a strike against telecoms company Telkom [JSE:TKG].

Hundreds of Telkom workers have been on a CWU strike for over a month this year as they demand an 11% salary increase, six months maternity leave, gainsharing and bridging the ‘apartheid wage gap’.

But as allegations of intimidation have dogged the CWU-led Telkom strike, the union at its special national executive committee meeting this week decided to halt its labour action, at least temporarily.

CWU’s secretary general, Aubrey Tshabalala, told Fin24 that the decision to suspend the strike came after the union and Telkom have started to meet halfway on some demands.

“The conclusion was that we must call off the strike because our members believe that there's lots that still needs to be clarified, but they said in light of this we must suspend an indefinite strike, not calling it off,” Tshabalala told Fin24 by phone on Friday.

"We have not waived our right, because once you call it off you can't go back. We are suspending it [the strike],” he said.

Meanwhile, Telkom’s group executive for communications, Jacqui O'Sullivan, confirmed to Fin24 that CWU had “formally communicated” on Friday morning about the strike suspension.

“This is in response to the full and final settlement Telkom put to the union on Wednesday this week,” O’Sullivan told Fin24.

However, O’Sullivan said that their are still issues that both parties need to address.

In particular, Telkom wants CWU to join other unions in a ‘collaborative partnership agreement’ that ensures the company halts retrenchments over the next two years.

As part of the agreement, Telkom this year has further implemented a R700m 'Performance Pays' programme to give employees, who meet their targets, 6% more pay than last year.

CWU, though, is disputing this agreement as the union has previously called for a three year moratorium on retrenchments and outsourcing.

“Of course, we welcome the suspension of the strike but also note the union has not yet agreed to the collaborative partnership agreement – the agreement which SACU [South African Communications Union] and Solidarity signed in June this year," O'Sullivan told Fin24.

“The agreement is critical in changing the way we incentivise and reward performance in the company.

“We want to be able to reward employees for better productivity and better customer service and we will do this through the partnership agreement.

“So while we welcome the suspension of the strike, we will continue with our implementation of the collaborative partnership agreement, for all employees,” said O’Sullivan.

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