Telecommunications giant Telkom has been told to expect strike action if it does not “come to the party” during upcoming wage negotiations. In March, the previous wage deal expired and Telkom met with the three unions representing its employees to discuss a new deal. When the wage negotiations began in March, three unions were involved. These were the Communication Workers Union (CWU), South Africa Communications Union (SACU) and Solidarity.
The Communication Workers Union was satisfied with the offer made by Telkom and stepped away from the negotiating table satisfied. The South African Communications Union and Solidarity remain at loggerheads with Telkom. Of the two unions, SACU is the least hopeful that there will be a resolution at the next meeting scheduled for Thursday. Tech Central quoted the president of SACU Michael Hare: “We are too far apart. Telkom wants to address disparities using the current inflation rate, which is 5,9%. Its current offer is 6%, which we are agreeable to, but Telkom wants to take from that figure to deal with wage disparity.”
SACU has gone as far as applying for a strike certificate which will be issued on Thursday if the parties involved fail to see eye to eye. Though Hare thinks strike action is inevitable, he did say that a strike is not the best solution and that SACU will explore other means before commencing with strike action.
Solidarity, on the other hand, has not yet applied for a strike certificate but the union does not believe that this wage dispute will be resolved on Thursday. Spokesman for Solidarity, Marius Croucamp was disappointed by the last meeting with Telkom. Croucamp said: “Telkom doesn’t seem willing to negotiate.” He added that one of the biggest issues for Solidarity is the timing of the introduction of a remuneration model by Telkom. “Also, Telkom cannot introduce a remuneration model that’s new during wage negotiations. A new model will have effects for years to come and we believe it should be addressed separately.”
Solidarity is prepared to exhaust the negotiation process but has also warned that the outcome of next week’s meeting with Telkom will determine if and when Solidarity will also apply for a strike certificate.