MTN Damaging wage strike at South Africa's mobile phone operator, enters 4th week

The strike, the first to hit Africa's biggest mobile phone operator since its formation in 1994, is forcing the company to turn away customers hoping to buy mobile phones at some of its stores due to supply shortages.

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Police officers keep watch during a strike of MTN workers outside the company's headquarters in Johannesburg May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko play Police officers keep watch during a strike of MTN workers outside the company's headquarters in Johannesburg May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (Reuters)
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A strike over higher pay at South African mobile phone operator MTN Group stretched into its fourth week on Monday, disrupting the supply of some new mobile phones.

The strike, the first to hit Africa's biggest mobile phone operator since its formation in 1994, is forcing the company to turn away customers hoping to buy mobile phones at some of its stores due to supply shortages.

"We are due to meet MTN later this week but in the meantime the strike continues," said Tshepo Matlau, a national organiser at Communications Workers' Union (CWU).

Themba Nyathi, MTN's human resources head and the spokesman on the industrial action, was not available to comment.

Hundreds of entry level staff have rejected the company's performance-related 8 percent pay increase, saying the offer should remove performance indicators.

MTN, along with rivals Vadacom and Cell C in Africa's most advanced economy, is trying to contain costs in the face of tough competition that has hit profit margins.

The company, which reported a 9 percent increase in full-year profit in March, employs about 6,500 people in its home market, where it trails rival Vodacom by subscribers.

Shares in MTN, which have dropped by about 7 percent since the strike started on May 20th, were off 0.42 percent at 220.08 rand.

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