CWU withdraws court bid against MTN

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MTN logo. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
MTN logo. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Johannesburg - The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has withdrawn its court bid against MTN’s outsourcing plan as the two parties have agreed to consult on the matter.

CWU had applied for an urgent interdict at the Johannesburg Labour Court against MTN following the company’s decision to outsource a portion of its call centre facility to a third-party vendor.

The union had claimed that it had not been properly consulted over the planned Section 197 process and the Labour Court was set to hear the complaint on Wednesday.

But the court hearing was then called off as MTN  [JSE:MTN] and CWU struck a deal to hold talks on the matter.

"What's important is that MTN have made a condition that if we withdraw the application, they [MTN] will then have a proper consultation on Section 197,” CWU President Clyde Mervin told journalists at the Johannesburg Labour Court on Wednesday.

"We are in agreement now with MTN that they will now have a formal consultation on Section 197 and, two, the whole issue of the casual workers will be dealt with internally in this meeting that will happen on Friday,” said Mervin.

MTN is further set to put its outsourcing on hold amid the consultation, said Mervin.

"They are stopping it up until there is going to be a consultation. So, there's going to be no outsourcing,” said Mervin.

UPDATE: Fin24, though, understands that MTN does not plan to stop its outsourcing drive and will continue with the measures despite CWU's halting of its court bid.

However, the threat of strike action still looms, Mervin told Fin24 on Wednesday.

“It all depends on how the engagement happens. So, for now, we'll continually make our workers ready to go on strike, but also we need to have a proper way of dealing with Section 197,” he said.

Meanwhile, MTN in a statement on Wednesday also commented on CWU withdrawing its legal action over the outsourcing matter.

“MTN will continue to maintain an open door policy with the union on the matter, in order to reach an outcome that will benefit all the parties concerned, including our customers,” said Nhlanhla Qwabe, MTN South Africa’s chief human resources officer.

The move by CWU to halt its court action against MTN has also come a day after the Labour Court struck down the union's bid to halt restructuring at Telkom.

The court, in its ruling, slammed CWU for not sufficiently participating in Telkom's restructuring process and meetings.

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