Telkom issues 2 300 voluntary severance packages

Around 2 300 Telkom employees have opted for voluntary severance packages since the start of a business restructuring process early this year, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The company in January announced that some 3 000 jobs were on the line, in a move that drew heavy criticism from labour unions.

"We started consultations a while back, and as part of that process, there was an option of taking voluntary early retirement," said Nomalungelo Faku, adding that the people who opted for voluntary severance packages numbered around 2 300.

"These are people who were nearing retirement age... they voluntarily left," said Faku.

She said the workers had taken the packages before the lockdown period kicked in and they have already left the company.  

Faku added that consultations regarding the restructuring process were still ongoing, and the talks facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration were suspended due to the lockdown period. The semi-private telecommunications company, which employs approximately 9 000 people, had cited a need to prepare the company for future competitiveness as a reason for reducing its headcount.

Telkom is adjusting to a shift in operating conditions, which has included a significant move from voice to data. Its credit rating was recently downgraded to junk, with a negative outlook, by agency Moody's.

Telkom shares closed at R21.10 on Tuesday, up nearly 11%.