Union chants 'voetsek' to MTN execs

Johannesburg - Chants of “voetsek” reverberated outside MTN’s [JSE:MTN] head office on Wednesday as the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) called for pay hikes at the telecoms firm.

Over 100 workers went on an organised strike outside MTN’s Johannesburg headquarters as they called for a 10% pay rise and bonus pay of 16% of their annual salaries.

MTN, though, is only offering 4% bonus pay to workers.

At midday, striking workers were chanting: “Ahmad Faroukh run, Themba Nyathi run, Sifiso Dabengwa run.” Then they chanted: “Close MTN close, shut down MTN shut down... voetsek Faroukh, voetsek, voetsek Themba Nyathi voetsek.”

Ahmad Faroukh is the MTN SA CEO, Themba Nyathi the head of human resources at MTN and Sifiso Dabengwa is the MTN Group CEO.

Leaders at the CWU strike then lashed out at MTN for allegedly misleading the media on how many members the union has in the company.

MTN says CWU members do not make up a 30% threshold and that the company therefore does not recognise the union.

“As I speak to you, the last time we were here we had 3 000 members,” CWU president Clyde Mervin told Fin24.

“Every time we are coming through to MTN we get more stop orders, so we are confident that we have passed the threshold.

“We are above 35%,” Mervin told Fin24.

He further threatened a strike at MTN reminiscent of the Post Office strike last year, which crippled postal services and was followed by the resignation of board members.

“You know what we did in the Post Office, we had different marches, we have removed the board... and this is what we are going to do at MTN."

However, Mervin said the CWU is prepared to negotiate on its salary and bonus pay demands.

Other issues the CWU wants addressed include doing away with “unfair” labour practices and labour brokers, and implementing a task team at MTN to determine which workers have been short-changed by salary adjustments.

Faroukh signed a memorandum handed over by the CWU. The union wants MTN to respond in seven days.

“We are prepared to engage but MTN must come to the party first,” said Mervin.

CWU not recognised

MTN’s head of human resources Themba Nyathi told Fin24 earlier on Wednesday that the CWU is not a recognised union by the telecoms company.

"They don't have the numbers for recognition. In order to be recognised as a union, you are supposed to have 30% representativity.

"They only have plus minus 17% representation."

Nevertheless, MTN’s Nyathi told Fin24 that it is still engaging with the union.

View the photo gallery of the strike by clicking here.

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