There was palpable anger on the streets outside MTN’s headquarters in Fairland, Johannesburg on Wednesday as hundreds of workers — mainly from the group’s call centre operations — went on strike.
Access to the offices wasblocked, with employees parking their cars for hundreds of metres up side roads in the leafy suburb adjoining Northcliff.
A heavy police presence was keeping a close eye on the protestors. TechCentral estimates as many as 300 MTN staffers were involved in the industrial action at the head office.
The strike is also affecting a number of MTN facilities around the country.
One striker told TechCentral that they are upset because they were offered a 4% increase while the group CEO, Sifiso Dabengwa, got R28m.
According to a report by Reuters, the Communication Workers Union has, in addition to a demand for higher bonuses, called for a 10% salary increase and higher pay for work done over weekends and holidays. Other demands include that contractors be given permanent employment.
MTN had offered workers a 4% bonus, as opposed to the union’s call for a 16% increase.
“There are people who got R1 000. Some got R1500 before tax. They said the company did not perform, yet they [the bosses] got such huge increases. We are demanding a 10% increase. There are people who are temping for more than two years,” said one striker.
Another striker said their demands are threefold: they want the issue of their 2014 bonus resolved, they want a salary increase and they want temporary staff to be made permanent.
This protester felt that their demands were not unreasonable. “We started negotiations on 11 March; today is 20 May. They paid us 4%, when they were supposed to pay us 16%. We don’t want to hear anything in single digits. They must talk double digits increase.”
He claimed that MTN also did not pay double on public holidays and Sundays as required by law. He said the company was trying to fudge the issue by discussing future bonus payments and not the 2014 bonus.
He also claimed that MTN has 123 temporary staff at its head office and that they had been moved elsewhere to keep the call centres running.
A third striker was visibly upset and angry. “The execs are getting big bonuses and people on the ground are getting peanuts,” she said.
“We just want our basic needs to be met. We’re not asking for a new car. We leave our families to work here late every night. We risk our lives to get to work and we are told we need to make profits. They tell us ‘we are MTN’, yet morale is so low,” she said. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media