Print Edition - 2015-01-10 | MONEY
Mgmt-worker dispute hits UTL services
Jan 9, 2015-
Services of United Telecom Limited (UTL) have been halted in several places of the country for the last two days as a result of multiple breakage in optical fibres, but an ongoing dispute between the UTL management and employees has delayed maintenance work.
The management has accused the employees of delaying the repair work “intentionally”, while the employees term the service disruption a “conspiracy” of the management.
Most of the places in Eastern and Western regions are facing unavailability of UTL services. The services in the Kathmandu valley are reportedly normal. UTL has 98 Base Transceiver Station (BTS) towers, of which 58 are in the Kathmandu valley.
The breakage in the optical fibre network has affected international calls and internet services, the company said. UTL CEO SP Pachauri also said the service disruption was due to several breakages in optical fibre cables.
Both the management and engineers have termed the problem a “minor technical glitch” and should have been sorted out within a few hours, but the blame game is taking its toll on the company as well as customers. “The repair should have been completed within a few hours,” Pachauri said. “It is taking more time than anticipated.”
Pachauri accused the employees of “intentionally” slowing down the maintenance process. “We are trying to fix the issue,” he said.
The employees, on the other hand, say the management “tampered” with the cables in such a way that they are not being able to fix them. “These kinds of issues keep occurring and we have solved them many times. But this time, we are simply clueless as to what has happened,” said Bikash Kumar Jha, president of UTL chapter of the All Nepal Workers Union for Organisations and Financial Institutions. An UTL engineer, seeking anonymity, said their repetitive attempts to fix the issue have failed.
The dispute ensued ever since the workers union launched an agitation in December-end putting forward a 14-point demand. They had threatened to intensify the protests if the management did not address their demands. The demands included a pay hike by Rs 15,000 per month, issuance of appointment letters to the workers and to those who have worked for more than 240 days as per the Labour Act, and modification and redefine of the existing human resources manual based on the Labour Act.
After the protests, the management acquired an interim stay order from the Appellate court, which barred the activities of the employees. Telephone service has been recognised as an “essential service” by the Essential Services Operation Act, 1957.
According to Achyuta Nanda Mishra, co-spokesperson for the Nepal Telecommunication Authority, the regulator has directed UTL to resume the services at the earliest.
“Since telecom is an essential service, it cannot be halted for more than 24 hours. We have directed the company to resume the service at the earliest,” Mishra said, adding the regulator has been receiving complaints from customers.
Published: 10-01-2015 09:48