* Union had moved to court to stop job cuts
* Another union also planned to go to court (Recasts with company confirmation)
JOHANNESBURG, July 17 (Reuters) - South Africa’s Telkom SA said on Thursday it had agreed to suspend planned restructuring and job cuts pending negotiations with unions, delaying changes analysts say are necessary to revive the struggling landline operator.
Telkom had said it planned to slash an undecided number of jobs from a management layer that employees 2,650, as part of a drive to bring down costs by 1 billion rand ($93 million) annually for the next five years.
But the fixed-line operator said in a statement it will now return to the table for negotiations with unions and an independent facilitator. The first talks are due to begin on Monday, the company said.
The Solidarity union, whose membership is made up mainly of whites, initiated legal proceedings against Telkom last week alleging the state-run firm would use race as a criterion for lay-offs.
“New criteria for the restructuring process will be tabled and considered during a consultation process,” Solidarity said in a statement.
Telkom has said it would consider qualifications and experience in restructuring and underlined that employment equity - the racial mix of its workforce - was only “one of the four criteria that will be applied”.
Another union, the South Africa Communications Union (SACU), said last week that it also intended to take Telkom to court because it believed the company planned to cut as many as 9,000 jobs from its 19,000 payroll.
A third body, the Communications Workers Union, said it had not received any word on the suspension. (Reporting by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura, editing by William Hardy)