FIXED telecommunications operator TelOne’s unilateral 15 percent pay cut for all staff has riled the communications workers’ union. The Telecommunications and Allied Services Workers Union claims that it was not consulted on behalf of its members.
The union was also angered by the government’s endorsement of the pay cut. The government, through Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services, said this was in line with the prevailing economic conditions.
TelOne cut salaries for all its staff by 15 percent, effective last month, in a move managing director Chipo Mutasa said was meant to cut costs. But the Communications and Allied Services Workers Union this week said the reason was not justified for a company that posted half-year profit of $1,6 million.
TelOne workers were allegedly made to sign for the pay cut, after threats that the alternative was retrenchment on three months’ notice, to make it uncontestable in court. CASWUZ president Lovemore Matombo said that the pay cut was insensitive, created hardships for workers and caused them to be unpredictable.
“The $1,6 million profit means the workers played their part, why are they being punished and the other thing is that the salaries being cut are from 2012. The minister is out of touch with reality on the ground. He is supposed to protect TelOne from risk caused by unpredictability,” said Matombo.
“The worst thing is that the minister failed to find another solution other than cutting costs, which was very surprising to many,” the CASWUZ president said.
He said the country’s sole provider of fixed telecommunications service, while faced with challenges, could not have been affected as much as most firms across the country’s economic sectors.
Most of TelOne’s employees, numbering about 1,500 workers, are members of the union and were allegedly coerced into accepting the 15 percent pay cut.
“The workers were told that if they didn’t sign to accept the cuts, they would be retrenched on the basis of the Supreme Court judgment,” Matombo said. CASWUZ is also unhappy that Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira’s, who approved the pay cut.
In a letter to Matombo, Minister Mandiwanzira said the salary cuts by TelOne were plausible at a time other entities were laying off staff.
An estimated 25,000 workers lost their jobs after the June 17 Supreme Court ruling that companies could lay off workers upon issuing three months notice. The endorsement by the minister, CASWUZ said, has left the workers without recourse because as a dispute of right, the workers could not go on strike.