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Telkom defends R4m gym spend amid retrenchments

Trade union Solidarity hopes to have retrenchments reversed due to the gym upgrade.

Telkom Towers. Picture: Telkom.co.za

JOHANNESBURG - Telkom says the retrenchment of staff to cut costs does not mean the company should not invest in employee wellness and allocating R4 million to upgrade its gym is not frivolous expenditure.

Telkom has embarked on a restructuring process, as it experiences a huge migration from landlines to digital communication by a bulk of its customers.

But the parastatal now faces court action, with trade union Solidarity hoping to have retrenchments reversed due to the gym upgrade.

Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko said, "On the one hand we need to make sure that we become efficient and competitive, on the other hand we need to invest in things that are very important and necessary, like improving the gym, which has not been invested in. In fact some of the equipment was becoming a health hazard."

At the weekend the Communication Workers Union (CWU) accused Maseko of nepotism and called for him to step down.

The union said Telkom has sent more than 100 staff members retrenchment letters since the beginning of this month.

The utility's retrenchment process started earlier this year with about 200 managers taking voluntary severance packages.

The CWU's Clyde Mervin said union members are now out of a job while Maseko is employing friends in management positions.

"We want Maseko to leave with immediate effect because he only employs his buddies from Vodacom and I think that is where we have serious problems."

Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko. Picture: Sapa

Earlier this year, Telkom said it would seek to cut an undisclosed number of management positions by the end of its restructuring phase.

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