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SAFTU statement on the relentless attack on the leadership of the ICTU by Telkom Management under the leadership of CEO Sipho Maseko

SAFTU deplores the instituting of Nuremberg trials against the leadership of our affiliate the Information Communication and Technology – ICTU based on results of the membership verification results conducted by the CCMA commissioner who demanded money for services he provided.

In typical membership verification exercise, the CCMA commissioner found that some of the people who were submitted to the process have resigned, others were still members of other rival unions and one or two, when confronted by management, had claimed that they did not sign the forms even though all their personal details were in the forms.

It is unheard of in the history of labour relations in our country that the union leadership will then be charged for fraud arising out of the verification process.  

As part of this the witch-hunt currently underway, Seven National Office Bearers of ICTU by Telkom are being charged on these trumped-up and frivolous charges, which include fraud, dishonesty and misrepresentation arising out of the latest verification of membership, exercise as conducted by the CCMA.

Frankly, this is a declaration of war not only against the ICTU but against SAFTU and the rest of the family of independent, democratic and campaigning unions across the globe. This will not be left unchallenged.

In addition to this, the President of the union has also been charged and dismissed for alleged misconduct that allegedly took place on March 2018, which is more than a year ago. This is in total contradiction of the company disciplinary procedure that states that the employees may be charged for misconduct but not later than 20 days after the alleged offence has taken place.

Previously Telkom dismissed the former General Secretary, Ezekiel Mashaba for sending information to the former General Secretary of COSATU, and the current SAFTU General Secretary with serious allegations of corruption against senior management.

Ezekiel Mashaba was the suspended on the 08 November 2010 for giving a report to structures of the union and to COSATU after Thabang Mothelo was suspended on the 02 November 2018 where the company alleges that he was the one who communicated to the media and followed Jakes Motuku who was suspended due to refusal to charge Ezekiel Mashaba and Thabang Mothelo where he stated that there was no bases to take such action.

CMA Commissioner declared Ezekiel Mashaba’s case as Automatically Unfair Dismissal, and it was then referred to Labour Court in 2012. The final hearing of his case was on November 2017 and judgment was handed over on the 08 January 2018. Judgment was in his favour, and the Company Telkom SA appealed this judgment, which was turned down by the Constitutional Court.

This is the example of the extent to which the company pursues ICTU leaders.
SAFTU demands that Telkom forthwith stop all the disciplinary steps it is taking against the leadership of the union. We demand the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of the ICTU President, Mr Lepheane. This attempt to resort to dismissals of union leadership is a trick tried by the apartheid era. That strategy did not succeed during the darkest days and will not succeed twenty-five years in a constitutional democracy.

This has gone for far too long, and we had hoped by building a relationship with the CEO to put to an end to this union-bashing drive by the management of Telkom. This has failed.

We demanded a meeting with the CEO of the company to discuss this and other issues below. In the typical example of his arrogance, he had asked his HR manager to respond to issues but say nothing about the request to meet.
In addition to this systematic campaign to deny workers their constitutional right to association, Telkom has under the leadership of Sipho Maseko led a brutal onslaught on workers through retrenchments, outsourcing of many departments of Telkom. While this is happening Telkom profits, have been soaring and management has been lining their pockets with huge salaries and bonuses.

The company has been disguising retrenchments as outsourcing. They have been outsourcing workers and year later, and those workers are retrenched. They have done that with WNS and Barloworld where thousands of Telkom employees were outsourced to these companies and later year, these employees were then dismissed. This modus operandi is happening with BCX. Telkom has outsourced thousands of workers to BCX, and a year later, they are dismissing these employees.

This happened at the face of BCX spending unaccounted millions of rands with Bain & Company, the company which is notoriously doing business with Telkom/BCX and SARS.
We demand the re-insourcing of all these jobs back to the Telkom. We demand an end to the programme to slaughter jobs and the worsening of the overall crisis of unemployment.  In 1994 there were about 67 000 workers employed by Telkom. Due to the ruthless slaughter of jobs there are only around 13 000 jobs left and more workers are going to be thrown to join the long queues of the unemployed.  

SAFTU calls on her affiliates to pledge solidarity with the ICTU. We will place this need in the coming meeting of the National Executive Committee of SAFTU and hope that a programme by all unions will emerge to get the Telkom to appreciate that twenty-five of democracy means respecting workers rights as human rights.