Court dismisses bid to halt Telkom’s restructuring

Telkom. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Telkom. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Johannesburg - The Labour Court of South Africa has struck down a Communication Workers Union (CWU) bid to interdict Telkom from completing a restructuring process.

The urgent application, brought to the court on August 1 2016, sought to interdict Telkom from completing a Section 189, or retrenchment phase, at its corporate office.

But the court has found against the union and slammed CWU for its failure to consult in good faith.

Telkom said that between March 8 and July 19 it attempted to consult with CWU on 15 different occasions but the court said the union maintained an “intransigent” position.

“CWU had every opportunity to participate in the consultation process… It had every opportunity to table its own proposals,” read the judgment handed down on August 30.

“But to adopt the approach of effective non-participation in the process, wait until employment of employees is terminated, and then after the fact complain about the process, is just not proper,” said the court.

The court further found that Telkom’s restructuring process was fair and that the CWU had undermined consultation efforts.

“The overall objective of fair consultation has been achieved, despite the CWU’s best efforts to scupper this. In the end, it is the conduct of CWU itself that stands in the way of it claiming procedural unfairness,” read the judgment.

The court further decided not to award costs in a bid to maintain a relationship between Telkom and the union.

In the meantime, Telkom has welcomed the ruling.

“Throughout all our consultations with organised labour, we have sought to engage in a fair, transparent and meaningful manner,” said Jacqui O'Sullivan, Telkom’s managing executive for communication in a statement.

“We negotiate in good faith and are pleased that today’s judgement recognises that our adherence to and respect for due process, was not in vain,” said O'Sullivan.

Meanwhile, CWU said that it was still studying the judgment with its legal team and will comment further at a later date.

"The obvious thing is that we're disappointed about the judgment,” CWU secretary general, Aubrey Tshabalala, told Fin24.

The ruling has further come amid an ongoing strike at Telkom over a pay dispute.

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