Strike threat at Cell C over job cuts

Johannesburg – The Information Communication Technology Union (ICTU) has threatened to down tools across Cell C’s operations if the company does not withdraw the section 189 notice that it issued last week informing its employees of possible retrenchment.

Cell C, South Africa’s third-biggest mobile operator, which is grappling under severe liquidity constraints that resulted in the company defaulting on its obligations to lenders, has proposed reducing its workforce by up to 40%, citing operational requirements.

The telecommunications company said, of 2,500 positions, 960 might be affected by the restructuring.

ICTU, the majority union at Cell C, said on Friday that retrenchment were not an option given the R4billion recapitalisation programme approved by the Competition Commission last week aimed at keeping the company afloat and jobs secure.

A spokesperson for ICTU Thabang Mothelo said workers would down tools until the section 189 notice was withdrawn, adding that investors, not management, would be the biggest losers.

“We are not interested in negotiating. The ball is in Cell C’s court to either comply or go to the battlefield,” said Mothelo.

Section 189 (1) of the Labour RelationsAct provides that, before retrenching, employers must consult affected employees.

A Cell C spokesperson said the Section 189 consultation process would begin next week.

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