The South African Federation of Trade Unions pledges its full support to the 168 contract workers employed by companies to which MTN outsourced work at its High Value Repair Centre (HVRC) in Midrand, who are fighting for their jobs after MTN announced that they were not renewing these companies‘ contracts.
The Information Communication and Technology Union (ICTU) believes that these companies were used as labour brokers and it has been trying to engage with MTN since May 2018 but they refuse to even discuss the consequent job losses, claiming that it has nothing to do with any lay-offs because the workers are employed by the outsourced companies and not by MTN.
The workers delivered a memorandum to MTN at their HQ on 14 September 2018, but MTN CEO Godfrey Motsa and ER Executive Hlengiwe Opoku didn’t want to come out to accept the memorandum of demands.
Workers made it clear that they wanted to hand over their demands to these two since Nhlanhla Xwabe resigned last month. SAPS members had to go in to talk to to manament. Finally Keagile Mati came out to accept the memorandum, which ICTU deputy president comrade Origeneous Mogoathle read out.
The memorandum demanded that MTN respond positively to all the demands in 14 days and that the staff be absorbed by MTN as permanent employees with immediate effect.
“We demand that you take us back to your premises, as we have spent most of our careers period being exploited. MTN and the so-called outsource partners have exploited us since 2006.”
They said that they been exploited under the roof of MTN, under MTN’s management, governance and policies since the so called outsource partners do not have their own policies.”
The union pointed out that NUMSA won the case against labour brokering, reminded MTN that the workers are deemed to be absorbed and demanded that MTN comes out and opens a platform for ICTU and EFF leadership to engage and find a way to avoid the dismissal of 168 contract workers.
The memorandum also demanded that MTN give the genuine reason for this cruel decision to dismiss 168 contract workers and says they do not accept that MTN is dismissing us with the following reasons:
(1) The decline of cell phone repairs, whereas customers are purchasing cell phones daily
(2) The change of modern technology has affected us, but on the other hand the phones are taken to the external repair centers.
“MTN we want you to note that:
Among us we are professional Technicians and Quality Assurance Technicians and we are capable of changing with the times of modern cell phone industry. What we need is to be trained like it was before. As technical staff, we are failing to understand why we cannot repair the modern cell phones whereas the manufacturers and your external repair centers can do.
“MTN we all know that to swap a phone is very expensive compared to repairing. So why do you kill the business of repairs? It is not true that the repairs volumes have dropped down because of the change in modern cell phone technology. If the manufacturer and the external repair centers can repair why can’t MTN repair?
“Incompetence of management played a role in manufacturers pulling out. Also the incompetence of management is contributing to the pulling out of manufacturers such as Sony. The process of ordering spares, whereby procurement and logistics finance takes too long with their processes and that delays the workshop to have spares in time.
“Huawei stock got missing with the reason that security officer had signed for stock with out an inventory controller which we all know was against the MTN policy. There was no investigation done with regard to this.
“Hence we say that there is no transparency, but incompetence that leads to a loss in business. We therefore demand the proper investigations in all MTN repair centres.
“As workers we believe that MTN repair centres are also a critical core function of the business as per the definition of the term core function. What you need to do it to allocate a budget for the repair centres and it will sustain customers for the business of MTN.We demand that as management you start to take the repair centre seriously in the business.”
SAFTU has already warned that the exploitation by labour brokers will not end soon, even after the ConCourt judgment which brought hope to many vulnerable workers. The MTN dispute show how years of outsourcing work and using labour brokers has undermined workers’ rights and living standards and is one of many examples of employers finding ways to dodge the implications of the ConCourt’s NUMSA ruling.
MTN is not only refusing to re-employ them on a permanent basis but is destroying their jobs and families’ livelihoods. SAFTU urges all workers to unite in solidarity with these workers and respond to any calls for solidarity action.