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Telkom Accused by Labor Union of Frustrating Strike Voting

July 19 (Bloomberg) -- Telkom SA SOC Ltd., Africa’s largest fixed-line operator, may be frustrating attempts by the Solidarity labor union to ballot its members on a strike by restricting electronic communication, the union said.

Solidarity, which represents about 3,000 Telkom employees, is trying to e-mail its members on their Telkom work addresses to vote on accepting a wage offer made by the Pretoria-based telecommunications company or going on strike. The messages are being returned to the sender, said the union, which showed some of the blocked e-mails to Bloomberg. Telkom denied preventing the communication deliberately.

“Telkom is blocking our electronic communication to members,” spokesman Marius Croucamp said in a text message today.

Strike action is looming for Telkom after a breakdown in negotiations about wage increases. Pynee Chetty, a spokesman for Telkom, said the company had investigated the complaint and had concluded it was a technical issue with Solidarity’s e-mail system.

“We categorically deny sabotaging any of the unions communications,” Chetty said by phone. “We believe it’s in the best interests of our employees to receive communications from the organized labor outfits that they subscribe to.”

Early votes received by Solidarity showed that a majority of those members polled so far have rejected the pay offer, Croucamp said by phone.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Spillane in Johannesburg at cspillane3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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