News : MTN Locks Horns with Union
Johannesburg, South Africa, May 28, 2015 -- The strike at MTN is set to drag into a second week as the company and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) are fighting over an arbitrator to resolve the industrial action and the union is also threatening a "sympathy strike".
Yesterday the CWU threatened to bring more people on to the streets – with the issue of bonus payouts and salary increases key sticking points.
CWU deputy general secretary Thabo Mogalane threatened that the union was considering the possibility of a "sympathy strike", saying it had the support of workers along MTN’s value chain.
Mogalane said the union had brought 3 000 MTN workers on to the streets in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Bloemfontein, Polokwane and Nelspruit.
The union has been on strike at MTN since last Wednesday, and managed to shut down the cellphone operator’s call centre, close retail stores and the repair centre.
Yesterday, Mogalane said it was still demanding a 12 percent bonus across the board and an 8 percent salary increase.
MTN, meanwhile, has argued that the company’s offer for an 8 percent bonus this year and a 12 percent bonus next year are significant concessions.
It has also established a task team to look into payment for Sundays and public holidays in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
The union also said it would not participate in an arbitration process through the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, as this would "outsource" its bargaining power to a third party.
The CWU claimed that the company was intimidating its members, telling them they could be dismissed or their contracts not renewed if they persisted with strike action.
"As CWU we would like to register our strong concern at the manner in which the company is handling our strike action.
"This is protected action in terms of the Labour Relations Act," Mogalane said.
"In terms of this agreement, no party is allowed to intimidate or swear at (one) another during strike action."
Speaking to Business Report later, Mogalane remained defiant, saying MTN had no option but to continue negotiations with the union.
"(If we represent a small number of its employees) that is immaterial because what matters is if the strike is having an impact. In our assessment, it is – clients are writing complaints about call centres that are closed," he said.
MTN chief executive Ahmad Farroukh apologised for the service disruptions to customers this week.
"I wish to assure our customers that we view this matter in a serious light and we are working tirelessly to ensure that all our support services are operational. We plan to fully restore our services soon," Farroukh said.
Commenting on the impact of the strike action, MTN human resources head Themba Nyathi said the company experienced intermittent service disruptions, but its core operations were running optimally.
"Our operations are still working optimally even though minor disturbances have been reported. Our network coverage across the country is working as well, however our call centre has been impacted but the impact was mitigated by rerouting calls to facilities that were not affected by the strike," he said.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About MTN Group:
MTN Nigeria is part of the MTN Group, one of Africa’s cellular telecommunications company.
About Communication Workers Union:
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is the main trade union in the United Kingdom for people working for telephone, cable, DSL and postal delivery companies. It has 204,500 members.
Published: Friday, May 29, 2015