Disgruntled workers not disconnecting subscribers - MTN

Johannesburg - Mobile network MTN has strongly denied that workers at the company have allegedly switched off 200 000 contract subscribers amid an ongoing strike.

MTN is currently engaged in discussions with the Communication Workers Union (CWU) as workers at the telecom company's call centres and franchises are on strike. The striking workers are demanding salary increases of up to 10% and bonuses of 12% of their annual salaries.

MTN, though, is standing firm as the company says salaries and bonuses are determined by performance.

Amid the strike, claims have also surfaced that disgruntled MTN employees are switching off contract subscribers out of spite.

This is according to a listener of talk radio station 702. Radio host John Robbie read out the listener’s comment on air on Thursday morning.

“A guy at MTN Springs told me the workers switched 200 000 phones, people’s contracts, out of spite. I can’t get my phone switched on. If you phone the 808 number, the computer tells you sorry we cannot assist you,” the listener told 702.

MTN’s chief of human resources Themba Nyathi at first told 702 that the company would investigate the claim.

But on late Thursday Nyathi denied that the company’s workers are disconnecting contract subscribers as he told Fin24 that none of the striking workers have permissions in the company’s systems to disconnect contract subscribers.

"That is a classic disinformation campaign in the middle of the strike,” Nyathi told Fin24.

"There are internal governance measures. It's not like you can just come in and log in and go through customers accounts.

"It's a lie,” Nyathi told Fin24.

Court interdict and damages

Discussions between MTN and CWU are continuing but the strike has been dogged by allegations of violence and intimidation.

Last week, Nyathi told Fin24 that MTN had launched an urgent interdict with the Johannesburg Labour Court to stop the CWU from blocking entrances to the telecom provider’s offices and intimidating staff members.

Nyathi has further alleged that CWU has not adhered to the interdict as blocking of entrances and intimidation of staff allegedly continued this week.

In turn, MTN is now saying that it could launch civil claims against the union.

"All of the damage that has been caused by the unions; we definitely have to look at maybe launching civil claims to recover the costs of the damage to property; to staff members cars to everything,” Nyathi told Fin24.

CWU was not available for comment at the time of writing.

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