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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Media Centre  |  Affiliates Press Statements

Press Statement on the outcomes of the Communications Workers Union National Executive Committee [NEC] Meeting

1 October 2015

On the 25th to the 26th September 2015 held its normal scheduled NEC meeting in Durban to discuss organizational matters and challenges in the ICT Sector. The NEC is disgusted by the unabating shenanigans that are going on in Telkom regarding the reversals of the gains of the 1994 political breakthrough.

At the heart of these reversals is the recently constituted lily white Executive Committee (EXCO) and unabating job losses which are camouflaged as voluntary whereas in essence are involuntary given the socioeconomic conditions that workers find themselves in. The NEC was further taken aback by ICASA’s announcement to put spectrum on auction. We found the council of ICASA to be insensitive to the dynamics of our country.

The NEC called on government and all stakeholders to halt this “auctioning” of the national assets to the highest bidder in defense of our national security, health care system and education.

The NEC therefore resolved on the following:

On Telkom

We demand that there should be an immediate reversal of the decision to consitute a lily white and males only EXCO, and consider candidates that are blacks in general and Africans in particular. Furthermore we want a gender balanced EXCO. CWU is hell sticking to its position that there should no further job losses in any other form or shape in Telkom. Any attempts to cut jobs will have devastating results in the country socioeconomically.

We note that the CEO of Telkom has made efforts and committed himself to erode the existence of unions in Telkom in order to exploit workers willy-nilly.

The recent developments at WNS which is one of the outsourced entities in Telkom, as you are aware, where Telkom awarded WNS a contract to provide contact center services across multiple lines of business in the earlier part of the year. In the course of this contractual arrangement all workers directly linked to these lines of business were transferred to the employment of WNS as part of the outsourcing process.

A number of workers who were transferred in terms of section 197 of the LRA, were supposed to be transferred on the basis the ongoing concern and therefore their employment conditions shouldn’t be changed.

This confirms our suspicions that the move by Telkom to outsource was a cover to actually cut high number of jobs than what is presented in the public domain.

As CWU, we view this as arrogance of the first order and undermining of the labour laws of this country by a CEO of the entity in which government has significant shares. His posture negates government’s commitment to deal with the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

We are therefore calling for the dismissal of the CEO and the termination of a contract which Telkom has entered into with Bains Consultant who, in our view, are milking Telkom of millions of rands as a result of this contract and the services of which were secured without following proper procurement procedures.

On Digital Migration

We support the government’s move to place import duty of 15% on the set top boxes and welcome a R2.45 billion subsidy. Government will procure exclusively from local manufactures and we want that the beneficiaries must come from the previously disadvantaged communities.

We also commend the swift move from CWU’s rigid stance of encryption to a protected digital broadcast and also the government’s funding for SABC to establish a conformance test lab.

On SABC Funding model

The current situation at the SABC in terms of its funding model does not assist the situation. The public broadcaster is largely depended on commercial funding. We call for a full review of the funding model and a number of options have been tabled such as tax incentives and other mechanism.

We also welcome the fact that SABC’s archives are not being sold to Multichoice.

The signed agreement between Multichoice and the SABC says that Multichoice does not and will not own the SABC archives. The agreement could simply be coined as “rental agreement” which is a practice internationally. The advertisement revenue will also be retained by the public broadcaster.

The agreement will also fund the digitization of the SABC archived content to assist the public broadcaster’s DTT readiness. In our view such an agreement could also be an answer to the question of “funding model”.

On the South African Post Office

Communication Workers Union is flabbergasted by the snails pace at which government is dealing with the financial situation in the South African Post Office which has lost major clients and is unable to meet most of its financial obligations and this resulting in the closure of many Post Office outlets.

We are therefore calling for government to bail out the South African Post Office just like they did with the South African Airways as this will assist government to meet its commitments in so far as dealing with the triple challenges are concerned. The Post Office having infrastructure that reaches the remotest of places in the country will enable the poorest of the poor in rural areas to access its services. We therefore do not understand the reason for treating the South African Post Office differently from the South African Airways as both are state owned.

As part of turning around the situation in this state owned company, we are calling on government to come to the party by availing its courier business to the South African Post Office. We are also calling on the university of South Africa (UNISA) to bring back its business to the South African Post Office. The new board should be vigilant and not be complacent in the discharge of its duties.

The Post Bank’s infrastructure should be extended in line with the principle of universal access so that its services can be accessible to people even in rural areas.

As part of an endeavour to deal with corruption in this entity, we are calling on the President of the country to release the Special Investigations Unit’s (SIU) report on the outcomes of its findings on allegations of corruption in the South African Post Office.

On Broadband Infraco

Taking Broadband Infraco to Telkom as announced in this year’s state of the nation address in the current conditions in Telkom, in our view, is like taking our members to a slaughter house as there may not be a guarantee that their jobs will still exist after the fact. We are therefore calling for the retention of jobs when this transaction is done.

On rolling out of Mass Action

The NEC has confirmed the organization’s state of readiness for the rolling out of mass action. In conjunction with our provinces we’ll announce the date of a national march in the ICT sector after consultation with relevant authorities.

The purpose of the march will address all the issues that we have raised above including immediate conversion of all casual workers in our sector into permanent employment.

For more information, please contact Aubrey Tshabalala, General Secretary, at 0817408921 or Thabo Mogalane, Deputy General Secretary, at 0827105666.