Telkom targets whites

Telkom headquarters in Pretoria, as seen from Church Square Photo: Wikipedia
Telkom headquarters in Pretoria, as seen from Church Square Photo: Wikipedia

Telkom plans to target white, male employees when making job cuts that may affect more than 2,600 managers at South Africa’s largest fixed-line phone company, according to labor unions.

The carrier will consider “employment equity” when deciding who to dismiss, according to a document two labor unions said they received from Pretoria-based Telkom this week.

Employment equity is a government policy seeking to boost black participation in the workforce regardless of demography or merit.

South African companies have to comply with legislation seeking to address racial inequalities that stem from apartheid rule, which ended in 1994.

White males account for almost 40 percent of the senior and middle management positions that Telkom wants to reduce, while less than 9 percent of South Africa’s population is white.

Solidarity, a union with close ties to the predominantly white Afrikaans community, said Telkom’s cuts may disproportionately target white workers.

Affirmative action refers to racial measures that encourage companies in South Africa to hire and promote more black staff and procure goods and services from black-owned companies, despite blacks being a majority in the country.

The measures obviously discriminate against the small white minority.

Companies aren’t required to apply such policies when cutting jobs. Telkom said yesterday it intends to reduce its “management layer” by about 25 percent.

The operator, about 40 percent owned by the South African government, “will consider a number of criteria, one of which is our obligation to comply with the Employment Equity Act.”

The other criteria include qualifications, potential, length of service, and gender, according to a document that the unions, Solidarity and the South African Communications Union, said they received.

At Telkom, white males account for 38 percent of senior management and 39 percent of middle management, according to its 2013 annual report.

Source: Bloomberg News