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Media Centre  |  Affiliates Press Statements

CWU shocked by EFF Statement on Telkom

4 August 2017

Communication Workers Union notes that since there is a political turmoil in the country; based on various developments including issues relating to, "state capture," and the collapsed SOE’s in general, where the worst becomes the best. It is during these trying times that the poor and workers put on their hopes on organisations that are on the left to advocate for the plight of the masses trapped in poverty. There is unduly showering of praises for Telkom’s bosses, Sipho Maseko (CEO) and Jabu Mabuza (Telkom’s Board Chairperson) for turning things around in the entity.

As CWU we remain opposed to those sentiments. We do not mind the right wingers and those, who pursue Neo liberalism praising anti-workers strategies, however; we become more concerned if cheer leaders come from those whom we regard as being sympathetic to struggles of the working class. The underlying factors of these artificial successes, has dire consequences to workers and the poor. As one of the most influential, vocal and with an effective mass mobilising strategy, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) undoubtedly gives hope to many poor people that follows and supports the organisation.

As a trade union movement, we have supporters and EFF members in our ranks, and many of them have experienced the viciousness of Telkom’s restructuring plan. However; the President of the EFF (CIC), Julius Malema; in his speech at the 4th anniversary celebration of the EFF, in KZN, had cited the good management of Telkom by Sipho Maseko as a good model for governance of State Owned Enterprises (SOE). He went on to say that Maseko and Mabuza, "Are competent and capable cadres that were deployed in a crumbling institution and turned things around and today it gave the state R3 Billions, and that is what SOE’s are supposed to do.” This statement left over 11 000 workers whom were retrenched and outsourced disquiet. This feeling includes many black managers who suffered the brutality of Maseko and Mabuza’s re-engineering strategy in Telkom. Indeed, if you look at the balance sheet and income statements of Telkom – when measured against narrow financial indicators; they look incredibly good.

However, when one dissects the figures, we find a very different picture. Telkom has undergone significant restructuring over the past few years with a workforce reduced from 23 000 to just over 10 000 workers. This has left over 6000 families and extended families, mainly blacks in general and Africans in particular, with NO pay cheque at the end of the month that puts bread on the table. In our view, Telkom is a foster child of Global Management consultancy called BAIN. This BAIN has a notorious global record of providing advisory services that focus on cost cutting, job reduction, offshoring and outsourcing.

This is a model that Telkom has followed and hence it has reduced cost and boosted profit margins. This leads to what we coin as a short term (artificial) profit; and in the end (BAIN) will extract maximum profits on consultation fees. It does not end there; with a handful executive, mainly white males who share amongst them self-millions of Rands as part of their packages. In Telkom’s last integrated report released for the year ended 31 March 2017, it shows that Maseko pocketed on a full remuneration; a sum of R25 904 926 with Deon Fredericks (GCFO) R13 484 917 and Brain Armstrong sitting at R10 299 959, just to mention a few.

At this moment, Telkom SA has a very profitable business, but it contributed massively on making the unemployment stats to soar sky high in the country, where there are over 9 million people who are unemployed. How does an organisation (EFF) that is said to be representing the poor, applaud the system that continues to marginalise the poor? The take home of Telkom’s executive (mainly white males), represents the widening gap between the have and have not, and maintains the economical apartheid status quo.

We are therefore puzzled by the statement made by EFF in this regard and view such as regrettable. As CWU, we will only salute the SOE’s that make profit channelled for improving the lively hood of our people further; to create new sustainable and quality jobs and seriously address the national question of service delivery. Telkom has not only failed to maintain and create new jobs, but has also failed to deliver affordable and accessible telecommunication to the poor people of this country. Therefore, the balance sheet of Telkom is not in the interest of the country and the poor, but for foreign investors and a handful of the lucky black ones like Maseko and Mabuza. Their restructuring plan thus includes the purchase of BCX has further eroded black management, by replacing an African CEO with a white male.

It is important for the nation to note that at the end of this Maseko and Mabuza’s transaction, Telkom will no longer exist as it will be liquidated to the benefits of foreign investors. As CWU, we call the Department of Public Works and Treasury to re-assess the nature of advisory services being provided, particularly to our SOE’s by the likes of BAIN and McKinsey. We call upon all progressive left forces to rally behind this call in defence of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR). Problems are mounting at the Department of Telecommunication and Postal Services We are concerned about the posture of entities that falls within the scope of the Department of Telecommunication and Post Services (DTPS); with regards to workers issues and remuneration.

It is our view that management of these entities under this department are instructed to undermine labour and further to display arrogance when dealing with workers issues. In the current and ongoing salary and substantive negotiations with these entities, CWU is confronted with sheer arrogance and a don’t care attitude from the management of SENTECH, South African Post Office (SAPO), Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) and Broadband Infraco; in their response to workers demands. All the aforementioned companies unanimously deadlocked with CWU and demonstrated no interest to resolve these issues amicably. We therefore want to make it clear that as CWU, our members are ready to jointly take the battle to the streets if all fails.

We want to put it categorically clear that we will not accept any salary increase/benefits below the inflation rate. We believe that management want to use the current economic dire situation in the country to exploit workers. It is the same companies where their executive takes home millions of rands whilst workers are left to feed on breadcrumbs. We find this behaviour of the management distasteful and a provocation towards workers, and this is influenced by the high level of avarice. We have already declared a dispute with SAPO at CCMA and are waiting for a date of the sitting, and if other entities do not change their tune, we will follow the same path with them too. As CWU, we are going through the length and breadth of our country, giving feedback to workers and seeking for a fresher mandate, and it is becoming clearer that workers’ patience has been exhausted.

Contact: CWU General Secretary Aubrey Tshabalala Cell: 061 481 1080