Courts give Cell C nod to retrench staff

Court says the telco may proceed with planned retrenchments.

IT Web reported that, on 9 October, Cell C was given the go-ahead to proceed with retrenchments by the Johannesburg Labour Court. The ruling threw out an interdict application by the Information Communication Technology Union (ICTU,) which represents 60 percent of the telco’s staff.

The ICTU filed an urgent application to halt Cell C’s restructuring process at the beginning of October. The union also wanted the court to block Cell C from advancing any plans that are “not officially disclosed to unions and workers involved in the CCMA process”.

The battle comes after Cell C announced thousands of redundancies in June, equalling up to 40% of the workforce. Furthermore, the mobile operator announced plans to close 130 stores across the country to ease its financial pressure.
Cell C drew up a turnaround strategy last year outlining efforts to streamline the business, which included cost savings through procurement cuts, a year-long hiring freeze, a review and discontinuation of certain product offerings.

Responding to the court ruling, Cell C says it has been committed to “meaningful engagements within the parameters of the law, in order to have closure and certainty for all affected parties. The last CCMA-facilitated consultation meeting was held on 30 September 2020, marking the end of the prescribed 60-day consultation period. The company had already conceded to an extension of 30 days.”

Following its second loss at the courts, the union announced that it would embark on a nationwide strike on 12 October. The union plans to hand over a memorandum to communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams’s office.