Union slams judge in Telkom retrenchment case

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

Johannesburg - The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has cried foul over a damning labour court ruling handed down against it on Tuesday.

The Johannesburg Labour Court’s Judge AJ Snyman on Tuesday struck down the CWU’s bid to interdict Telkom from completing a restructuring process.

CWU's urgent application - brought to the court on August 1 2016 - sought to interdict Telkom from completing a Section 189 retrenchment process.

And in the judgment handed down Tuesday, Judge Snyman criticised CWU for its failure to consult in good faith, saying the union refused to consult with Telkom on 15 different occasions.

The court further ruled that CWU’s “attitude was confrontational and its approach obstructive” and that it resorted to “point taking and placing obstacles” in the way of the process.

But CWU President Clyde Mervin - speaking to journalists at the Johannesburg Labour Court on Wednesday - briefly hit out at the Telkom ruling.

"That judge, by the way from the start, the judge was against the union based on the discussions which were there,” Mervin said.

"But we are not despair[ing]. We are going to continue fighting and in actual fact today we told Telkom, that judgment doesn't mean we are not going to engage in a professional manner,” said Mervin.

Mervin said the union was still studying the judgment and planned to comment further on it on Wednesday.

Tense Telkom strike

The Johannesburg Labour Court’s handing down of the judgment on Tuesday further came amid a tense strike being held against Telkom.

For around four weeks, hundreds of Telkom workers have been on a CWU led strike.

The striking workers want an 11% salary increase, six months maternity leave, gainsharing, bridging the ‘apartheid wage gap’ and a three year moratorium on retrenchments and outsourcing.

Yet, allegations of CWU’s intimidation against non-striking workers and alleged sabotage of Telkom’s network have dogged the strike.

On Tuesday, Telkom further accused striking CWU members of sabotaging its network in Limpopo, resulting in over 50 000 customers being hit with connectivity problems.

However, CWU’s Mervin told journalists that while the union is “radical and militant”, they’ve been “engaging professionally” in the Telkom strike.

"We want to put on record, the sabotage in Limpopo, they must not blame on Communication Workers Union. There is no evidence to that effect that it is Communication Workers Union,” said Mervin.

"All the sabotage so far, there is no evidence that it is the Communication Workers Union. For now, our members are on a lawful strike,” Mervin added.

Read the full judgment against CWU below:

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