Union denies sabotage of Telkom facilities

Johannesburg – Striking Telkom workers have denied involvement in the alleged sabotage of several network facilities across the country.

On Thursday, Telkom [JSE:TKG] put up a R500 000 reward for information regarding the sabotage of numerous facilities around the country.

The reward comes amid a strike by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which allegedly turned violent this week.

But CWU President, Clyde Mervin, told Fin24 by phone that the union was not aware of the sabotage of any facilities.

“While we are striking, members are following the law. We went on strike legally. If it is found that any members of the union have been involved in the incidents we will deal with them,” Mervin told Fin24.

Telkom said that its facilities in Midrand, Pretoria West, Silverton, Durban, Pinetown, Pietermaritzburg, Makhado and Messina, were targeted on Wednesday.

The said sabotage has irked Telkom.

“This is not vandalism, the criminals who damaged our property knew what they were doing," said Jacqui O'Sullivan, Telkom Group Executive for Communication.

"Cables have been cut to cause maximum damage. Entire street distribution cabinets, which are located in neighbourhoods to serve multiple streets at a time, have been ripped apart and in a few instances yesterday [Wednesday], set on fire,” said O'Sullivan.

In a statement, Telkom further said that for some of its sites, specialist equipment was required to access the fibre cables and “the criminals were clearly using equipment that is not commonly available.”

“The SAPS [South African Police Service], with support from additional investigators and Telkom’s own forensics team, are currently pursuing a number of good leads to identify these saboteurs,” O’Sullivan said.

Court interdict 

On Monday, Telkom secured an urgent court interdict against the CWU after allegations of violence and intimidation surfaced regarding the strike against the company.

The Johannesburg Labour Court ordered that CWU restrain its striking members from certain “illegal activities”.

The court also ordered that CWU members refrain from “blocking Telkom entrances” to its premises in all provinces, interfering with business operations, and threatening non-striking staff.

The dispute between Telkom and the union stems from a failure between both parties to reach an agreement this year over a 'Performance Pays' incentive and annual salary increases.

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