Telkom offers workers early retirement packages

Icasa is proposing that inter-network call rates should fall by 70%.

Telkom Towers. Picture: Telkom.

JOHANNESBURG - Telkom is offering some of its workers voluntary separation and early retirement packages following the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa)'s decision to reduce inter-network call fees.

Icasa is proposing that rates should fall by 70%.

Telkom says this will reduce competition and result in possible job cuts.

In a statement, Telkom says the cumulative effect of past regulatory decisions resulted in subsidies of about R70 billion to South African mobile operators.

However, this is now set to change with inter-network call fees being reduced.

Telkom says, as a result, it’s now offering voluntary separation and early retirement to qualifying employees starting from Friday.

However, the Communication Workers Union (CWU)’s Clyde Mervin says they've discouraged their workers from taking these packages.

“Our position is very clear that our members should not take any voluntary severance packages so that we can go to the battlefield and protect jobs. As CWU we will defend our members.”

He says they will be discussing their next move at the upcoming Cosatu conference and will thereafter engage Telkom.

Icasa says it’s unfortunate that Telkom is using the decision to reduce inter-network call fees as a reason to lay off workers.

The regulator says a consultation process is still underway and no decisions have been made yet.

Spokesperson Paseka Maleka said: It’s important for Telkom to raise this issue with Icasa. We are able to address those issues within the process itself. We cannot confirm that jobs will be lost or anything like that until the regulations are published.”

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)