Telecoms

Striking Cell C staff suspended

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An illegal strike at mobile operator Cell C has led to 378 staff being suspended, pending a disciplinary hearing.

"They were suspended for participating in an illegal strike, blocking other employees and customers from entering and leaving the premises. We were granted an interdict to prevent them from blocking the access and exit to the campus, among others," Cell C executive head of communications, Karin Fourie, told ITWeb via e-mail.

"The suspension followed two ultimatums that were issued on Wednesday by management requesting staff to desist from illegally blocking the company's entrances and exits and return to work. Striking employees failed to comply with both ultimatums, leaving Cell C with no choice but to suspend them," Fourie added.

The suspension will stand until Cell C finalises a disciplinary process for the striking workers.

This morning, the Cell C campus was quiet and disciplinary hearings are expected to begin today.

The striking employees are believed to be members of the Information Communication Technology Union (ICTU).

Back in February, Cell C employees belonging to the ICTU embarked on industrial action related to bonus payments made in 2018 for work-related performance in 2017.

It is understood that bonuses were paid but a dispute over the signing of a collective bargaining agreement with the union led to further industrial action last week. Apparently, Cell C wanted a mediator to be appointed to finalise the collective bargaining agreement, but the union opposed this.

There were also rumours that all union members had been suspended but an internal memo, seen by ITWeb, confirms that only employees who were involved in the unlawful strike have been suspended, pending a disciplinary hearing. The memo states that all employees, including union members, who did not receive suspension notices, are expected to return to work.

The union reportedly has around 1 000 members at Cell C.

In February, Cell C's majority shareholder Blue Label Telecoms revealed Cell C had reported a loss of R638 million for the year ended 31 December 2018.

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