News : Union Goes to Court Over MTN Call Centres
Johannesburg, South Africa, Aug 29, 2016 -- The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has taken legal action to prevent plans by South Africa’s cellular provider, MTN, to outsource its call centre facilities.
The JSE-listed telecoms company earlier this month announced plans to outsource the facilities, arguing that it would adopt a hybrid model in which it could retain some call centre facilities while others were outsourced to an experienced third-party vendor.
MTN said the adoption of the model was aimed at optimising its operations and enhancing its customers' experience.
CWU president Clyde Mervin said last Friday that the union had interdicted MTN to stop its outsourcing plans in a bid to avoid retrenchments.
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"Telkom outsourced call centres, and after six months workers were retrenched," he said, referring to state-owned Telkom’s decision last year to outsource its fixed-line call operations to WNS Global Services.
"If we do not know the balance sheet of the company which will take over the call centres, workers could become victims of retrenchments.
"There is a possibility that the company will say their balance sheet is under strain and they will need to retrench employees to cut costs," he said.
MTN SA’s chief human resources officer Nhlanhla Qwabe said in a statement that the company would oppose the union’s legal action.
"The process is still ongoing, and we are encouraged by the participation of our employees thus far," Qwabe said.
"MTN can confirm the (CWU) has applied to court for an interdict against MTN. The matter is currently set down to be heard on August 31, 2016. MTN intends to oppose the application through the normal court process," Qwabe said.
The finalisation of this commercial undertaking will enable MTN to streamline its operations and focus on its core competencies, improve its ability to offer its customers a better customer value proposition and reduce operational costs.
The CWU has previously warned that it may strike in the next few weeks amid demands that MTN, among other things, puts an end to the outsourcing of call centres, converts temporary staff into permanent workers and meets its agreement to pay workers R12 000 a month.
MTN was rocked last year by an eight-week strike after CWU members downed tools in a strike that negatively impacted the company.
The strike saw the sudden resignation of former MTN South African chief executive Ahmad Farroukh.
The MTN Group share price also went into a tailspin after the Nigerian Communications Commission slapped it with a record $5.2 billion (about R75bn) fine for failing to meet a deadline to deregister unregistered subscribers as required by the rules.
MTN SA reported that in the half year to June subscribers were down 2.6 percent to 29.8 million mainly due to the negative impact of network outages in some areas, which had led to dropped calls.
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: Wednesday, August 31, 2016
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