Over the past two months, the Synergy of telecommunications unions in Mali has taken a series of initiatives to have a court decision that it considers “unfair” overturned against the country’s two main mobile operators.
Employees of the two main Malian mobile phone operators Orange Mali and Moov Africa Malitel have been on strike since Monday, February 21, to protest against the Supreme Court’s decision condemning them to pay more than 176 billion FCFA (304.4 million dollars) for billing answering machine calls to their customers. The strike was announced by the Synergy of Telecommunications Unions late last week.
Synergy specified that the work stoppage, which should continue until Friday February 25, will be renewed once, from Monday February 28 to Friday March 4, followed by an indefinite strike if satisfaction is not obtained. It adds that the non-satisfaction of the first point is equivalent to the gradual shutdown of all the technical equipment due to a lack of supply which could de facto lead to a serious deterioration in the quality of the network, or even the interruption of call transmissions. However, Synergie reassures that the minimum service will be observed, in accordance with the texts in force.
The strikers indicate that this strike movement comes after two weeks of sit-ins and various unsuccessful meetings with the authorities. Saïdou Dia, member of the trade union organization, declared: ” the Synergy of telecommunications unions regrets to note an accomplice silence, an absolute negligence, even a total disinterest in the legitimate demands of workers in the telecommunications sector . These demands are, among other things, the lifting of the seizure of the bank accounts of the two companies… ”.
In 2021, the Court of Appeal sentenced Sotelma-Malitel and Orange Mali to a heavy fine in the context of a dispute between them, since 2012, with the Malian Mobile Telephone Consumer Network (REMACOTEL) concerning the invoicing of phone calls on answering machine. Contesting this decision, the Synergy of Telecommunications Unions had declared that it would use all the actions that the law and the Labor Code authorize in the Republic of Mali in order to have it annulled.
This strike will disrupt the Malian telecom network as a whole. “ We must fear the interruption of mobile, landline and Internet telephony services, the disruption of the activities of all segments of the private sector, including the paralysis of the public sectors dependent on telecommunications services, for lack of supply due to seizure of accounts, the consequences will be incalculable for national stability ,” said Dia.