Telkom faces ‘revolt’ over outsourcing process

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By Casper Mabona

Telkom faces “revolt” over outsourcing process as its call centres workers engage in illegal strikes in the form of “go-slows”, with incidents of staff intimidation and walk-outs reported. But the telephone company is unfazed and announced on Monday that it is going ahead with the automatic transfer of staff from its call centre, supply chain and IT environments to new employers on 31 March.

Telkom said the unions failed to secure a majority consensus on an additional offer from the company.

“Our service levels have been under severe pressure for a number of weeks. We would like to apologise to all our customers for the poor service levels. We have brought additional staff into our already outsourced call centres and have increased our resourcing of the non-call centre customer options”, said Telkom spokesman, Jacqui O’Sullivan.

Earlier this month Telkom announced new partners to manage its non-core activities that include call centre operations and staff, as well as certain legacy IT billing systems, an internal printing division as well as the network and operations, and retail supply chain units.

Telkom’s discussions with organised labour has been underway for five weeks. SACU and Solidarity recently asked that Telkom make voluntary severance packages  and voluntary early retirement packages available to employees affected by Telkom’s current outsourcing initiative. Unions also requested that Telkom move the transfer date out from 31 March to 30 April.

Telkom agreed to both requests. Written acceptance of the offer was required from the unions by Friday afternoon.

The Communication Workers Union withheld the majority consent, which meant no agreement could be reached.

“Solidarity and SACU engaged very aggressively for their members and we believe the variation agreement was a reasonable middle ground for all parties. However, a majority consent is required and without such an agreement in place, we will have to proceed with the automatic transfers as planned at the end of this month”, O’Sullivan said.

The company added that consultations related to the closure of 20 non-viable Telkom Direct stores, continue today facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

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