Striking MTN employees kept up their picket at the company’s 14th Avenue offices in Fairland, Randburg, ahead of an expected meeting on Wednesday to break the deadlock.
With police officers guarding the entrance to the multinational company, a group of about 50 people wearing Communication Workers Union (CWU) T-shirts sang and blew whistles at the passing cars to draw attention to their demands.
A number of police and metro police vehicles were parked outside with officers keeping a watch on the spirited group.
The protected strike has hampered many of the company’s services with its 808 call centre also being suspended. A parallel security flaw detected in its e-billing system has also added to its woes.
People in the picket line under the company’s logo were suspicious of reporters, demanding to know whether they were from management, who they said had come out to take pictures of them previously.
They are holding out for a salary increase of 8% after revising their demand for 10% and they want a 12% bonus, which was revised from their earlier demand of 16%, according to CWU deputy general secretary Thabo Mogalane in a telephone interview.
Mogalane said the company had proposed arbitration to try and settle their differences, but CWU preferred mediation. This is what would be discussed at a meeting which would hopefully take place on Wednesday.
”We are against arbitration because we are using our muscle and we don’t want to outsource our muscle to a third party,” he said, adding that arbitration would take decisions out of employees’ hands and impose a decision.
The CWU-preferred step of mediation would allow for a third party to facilitate an agreement by the parties.
According to CWU, employees started work stoppages in warehouses from around the middle of March, and last Wednesday started the protected no-work-no-pay strike.
In a statement on Monday MTN said it wanted to resolve the strike speedily and maintained its offer was better than what CWU had initially demanded.
“In the interests of resolving all matters of mutual interest, MTN hereby propose that an independent binding arbitrator be appointed to adjudicate the matters at hand,” it said.
”The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) or the Labour Court can facilitate such binding final arbitration in a fair, impartial manner. MTN undertakes to abide by the findings of such an arbitrator as final and binding.”
It said its own offer was an 8% guaranteed bonus payable in two instalments.
”The first payment has already made in March 2015, and the second instalment will be payable in December 2015,” he said.
On the other demands it said a task team would look into payment for Sundays and public holidays in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and CWU’s membership would be audited to see if it met the 30% required membership threshold for the union to be recognised at the company.
Group Human Resources Executive Themba Nyathi said in the statement that one of the demands was for a 10% salary increase but salary increases are based on ”individuals meeting their performance and will not be applied in a blanket and uniform manner to scores of employees”.
“MTN will not replace its performance management system with a model that does not recognise personal contribution to performance. Any staff member can achieve any increase percentage if a specific performance target is met. This is Group wide policy affecting all 23 operations across the globe,” said Nyathi.
The union was also opposed to ”labour brokers”, companies that provide staff and who are not directly on the company’s payroll, but Nyathi said those employees were ”outsourced” and those companies need to comply with the labour relations act.