“Don’t retrench our members based on race!” Solidarity Union warns Telkom

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With Telkom employees resigned to the reality that retrenchment is imminent, Solidarity, a trade union which represents mainly white workers, has warned Telkom that it would have to file a court petition if needs be to prevent its members from being sacked based on their race.

“It is not lawful that you take that approach,” said Johan Kruger, deputy general secretary at Solidarity. “Race should be irrelevant when it comes to retrenching people.”

Kruger confirmed that Telkom had not stated that race would be a factor but he was merely pre-empting its possibility.

Under South African law on black economic empowerment (BEE) companies must increase black ownership and numbers of black workers. Hence, Telkom would not want make compromises in this area, reasoned Kruger. “The reasons being put forward for taking race into account is that Telkom has to reach or maintain a certain BEE rating,” he said.

As part of its restructuring programme, Telkom said it aimed to reduce the number of management layers over the next five years and cut its costs by 1 billion rand ($93 million) annually over the next five years.

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