Tough talk at Telkom Towers
Telkom’s new group CEO, Sipho Maseko, has told unions that the company is in trouble and that turning it around will require effort from every part of the organisation. By Craig Wilson.
Telkom’s group CEO, Sipho Maseko, met with trade union representatives on Monday to discuss the company’s future and turnaround plans. A union official present at the meeting says Maseko told them that how the company behaves over the next couple of years will determine its future.
Solidarity spokesman Marius Croucamp says the meeting of Telkom’s “restructuring forum” — a body designed to allow unions to engage with the CEO — was used by Maseko to provide a “status update” to the unions.
“The sense you get is he’s very honest,” Croucamp says of Maseko. “He makes the point that we’re really in trouble and we need to turn things around or we’re going down. There’s the sense that things can’t go on as they have.”
Croucamp says he is expecting hard decisions to be taken in coming years, “especially at top management levels”. Maseko, he says, intimated that employees, particularly those in senior positions, who fail to meet their targets will be removed from the company.
“Maseko seems serious about getting rid of baggage in Telkom. If you don’t contribute to the welfare of the company, you will be gone.”
Solidarity is eager to see that sort of “efficiency”, says Croucamp, because “a strong Telkom will mean security for people rather than having to wake up every morning wondering how long they’ve got a job for”.
Maseko also apparently made mention in the meeting of the telecommunications sector becoming more competitive, rival networks maturing and speculation of a possible acquisition of Neotel, possibly by a large mobile operator, all which endanger Telkom’s future, Croucamp says.
“The status of the company is public knowledge. It’s not looking good financially. The CEO says the company is in trouble and it needs to increase revenue. This means the tightening of belts and looking after customers more, which I think are the right things to say.”
Croucamp says Maseko made it clear that “costs will be cut where they can be without hindering the business” and that efforts will be made to “win customers back”. He says the CEO’s “openness and honesty” is “refreshing”. Nevertheless, ordinary Solidarity members “remain sceptical”.
“Maseko says the company will try everything other than job cuts to cut costs,” Croucamp says.
“He gave us a strategic overview of the company’s plans. It was a very serious talk. He gave us a basic overview of where they want to go, which I can’t go into too much detail about. But there is a plan.” — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media