Political Party Says Cell C Must Halt Planned Retrenchments or Face Protests

The party warned it could protest outside Cell C offices in Sandton as early as Tuesday, 6 October 2020.

Cell C offices
Cell C offices in Midrand

The African Democratic Change (ADEC) has told bosses at Cell C to suspend plans to retrench workers and warned the embattled company that it faces a wave of country-wide protests if it goes ahead with job cuts.

TechFinancials has it on good authority that the mobile phone operator is planning to retrench 40% of its junior management and semi-skilled staff.

At the same time, Cell C is facing off with the Information Communication Technology Union (ICTU) at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

The ICTU, which is an affiliate of the South African Federation of Trade Unions led by Zwelinzima Vavi, is the sole worker representative at Cell C.

The ADEC said in a statement that it wrote to Cell C CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson and Board Chairman Joe Mthimunye demanding that they suspend plans to retrench staff.

The political party, founded in 2017, has also said it demanded that all staff already retrenched be reinstated immediately.

ADEC also threatened country-wide protests in the coming weeks if its demands were not met.

The party warned it could protest outside Cell C offices in Sandton as early as Tuesday, 6 October 2020.

ADEC’s president Visvin Reddy said in a statement that Cell C decisions were “insensitive, unpatriotic, self-serving and profit-focused.”

He further noted that the unemployment rate in the country had risen to a record high of 34.9% in the second quarter.

Reddy accused Cell C and other similar companies of using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to downsize to maximise profits.

He warned that ADEC was ready to take to the streets in all provinces to end what he called the “looming Poverty Crisis in South Africa”.

Last month, the ICTU submitted a memorandum to Blue Label Telecoms (the biggest shareholder in Cell C), asking the company to clarify several concerns, including retrenchments at Cell C.

For more read: Union Asks If Blue Label Telecoms Is Using Cell C as a ‘Piggy Bank’

The memorandum further sought:

  • A detailed report on Blue Label Telecoms subsidiary of companies that generate revenue from Cell C and have a direct impact and influence on the imminent jobs bloodbath.
  • Explanation of the lack of interest displayed by Blue Label Telecoms as principal revenue beneficiaries endorsing the retrenchments and job losses of over 1,500 employees
  • The disclosure of  Blue Label Telecoms percentage stakeholder reduction and the effective date thereof.
  • We seek the disclosure on the impact of Cell C financial performance towards the overall Blue Label Telecoms results and its contribution towards the Cell C 189 retrenchments that are underway.
  • We seek clarity on the recap undertaken by  Blue Label Telecoms through the Competition Commission with an indication to save jobs.



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