UTL services resume as mgmt, union reach deal

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
UTL services resume as mgmt, union reach deal

Jan 15, 2015-

United Telecom Limited’s (UTL) services outside the Kathmandu valley have resumed from Thursday evening after being disrupted for a week due to an optical fibre problem and a subsequent dispute between management and the workers union over increasing the pay. The union had been staging protests demanding a raise and other facilities since July 3.

According to the Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA), UTL and the workers union agreed to restart services following negotiations on Thursday. The company has also agreed to identify the areas where services have been affected due to a glitch in the optical fibre line, said Achyutananda Mishra, assistant spokesperson at the NTA. According to him, the NTA will also keep tabs on UTL’s services.

Phone lines outside the valley went dead last week after problems surfaced in its optical fibre link. A similar malfunction was also reported at some places in the valley. The glitch could not be repaired as the workers intensified their agitation against the management.

According to the NTA, the UTL management agreed to address the workers’ demand through negotiation. Sources said that the company had pledged to deal with their grievances within a week.

As the disruption of service continued due to the labour agitation, the Patan Appellate Court on January 2 ordered the union not to halt work as the telecom sector was an essential service where protests were not allowed.

The two sides had been blaming each other for the disruption of service. On September 30, the UTL management had filed an application at the Ministry of Labour and Employment to cut its staff strength by 60 percent due to mounting losses.

According to UTL, its cumulative losses had swelled to Rs 3.25 billion as of the last fiscal year, while its losses during the last fiscal year amounted to Rs 780 million.

The UTL board said it was sticking to its decision to reduce the number of workers. The workers union has opposed the board’s decision to downsize stating that the voluntary retirement offer launched by the company was not attractive. As per the scheme, retiring workers would get Rs 100,000 as a severance package.

Meanwhile, UTL has moved to obtain a unified license from the NTA with the aim of expanding its business. After getting the permit, it can operate all types of telecom services including GSM and landline.

Published: 16-01-2015 09:53

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