MTN says it is committed to finding a speedy and amicable resolution to the industrial action at its South Africa operation, and has condemned alleged violent acts by some strikers.
In a statement, the company says it respects its employees’ rights to protest as long as this is done within the confines of the law and the spirit of the Constitution, but that it will take action against violent protesters.

“MTN has noted reports that the workers who are protesting have been intimidating and assaulting non striking workers,” says Themba Nyathi, chief human resources officer at MTN SA. “We condemn this criminal behaviour and we will take the necessary action against those who have been implicated. Employees should know that in exercising their rights they don’t have to infringe upon the constitutional rights of other employees.”

He also condemned the inflammatory language used by protesters, and said that it is not in the spirit of reconciliation.

“MTN has zero tolerance for any form of discrimination,” Nyathi says. “MTN has a footprint in 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East and its staff complement comprises of competent and highly skilled employees from across the world. MTN respects the employees’ rights to protest as long as this is done within the confines of the law and the spirit of the Constitution, which outlaws hate speech.”

Commenting on the impact of the strike action, Nyathi says MTN experienced intermittent service disruptions, but that its core operations were running smoothly.

“Our operations are still working optimally even though minor disturbances have been reported,” Nyathi says. “Our network coverage across the country is working as well, however our call centre has been impacted, but the impact was mitigated by re-routing calls to facilities that were not affected by the strike. These call centres performed satisfactorily under trying circumstances. We shall continue to monitor the situation closely, periodically review the contingency plans we have in place and report on the impact.”

Nyathi says the company has reviewed some issues with a view to reaching an amicable and speedy solution to the impasse. Notably, he says, MTN has reviewed the current bonus model which makes provision for an additional guaranteed 4% annual salary at the end of 2015 and a guaranteed 8,33% in March 2016 and every year thereafter.

“MTN’s new bonus model is better than the original demands by the union,” says Nyathi.

The company has also reinstated canteen subsidies which have been increased in response to employee feedback. The data limit for employees was reviewed and increased in line with personal usage and an extra SIM card was added to be used by any person of choice nominated by staff.

“We remain committed to working tirelessly to find a middle ground with the protesting employees in order to find a win-win outcome so that we can all focus on our operations,” Nyathi says.