MTN seeking to end month-long strike

Johannesburg - South Africa's second biggest mobile network MTN says the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has "painted itself in a corner" regarding a protracted strike.

On Monday, a strike against MTN entered its fifth week as striking workers asked for higher annual salary increases and bigger bonus pay.

CWU has spearheaded the strike in a messy battle with MTN. The mobile network won a court order against CWU last week to stop the union from blocking entrances to MTN's offices and intimidating staff.

And after the strike started on May 20, MTN South Africa's chief of human resources Themba Nyathi told Fin24 that the company’s "pre-strike position still remains".

That is, MTN is promising bonus payments of 4% in November and it is considering 8% salary increases each year for level 1 and 2 staff subject to board approval. MTN also said that it pays staff on weekends and public holidays according to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

Discussions

"The union has painted itself in a corner because most of their members are back at work. The union refused fair independent arbitration," Nyathi told Fin24.

"MTN has made contingency plans for the services which were disrupted by the strike. The union now agrees with most MTN pre-strike terms. Hence MTN calls on the union to end the strike and spare their members endless sorrow, unpaid salaries over easy simple issues which could be resolved around the table," Nyathi said.

"The union must formally end off the strike because their few members are back at work," he added.

CWU president Clyde Mervin told Fin24 on Monday afternoon that discussions were ongoing with MTN.

"Look as we speak to you, workers are still on strike in the provinces," Mervin told Fin24.

"The union is looking for a settlement to end the strike," Mervin added.

MTN is South Africa's second biggest mobile network with 28 million subscribers.

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