Court warns Gabon Telecom striking workers

By Issa Sikiti da Silva

A court in the Gabonese capital Libreville has told the National Telecommunication Union (SYNATEL) striking members to stay away from Gabon Telecom premises and stop any act of intimidation, harassment and violence, or face the full might of the law.

Gabon Telecom, a subsidiary of Maroc Telecom, has been experiencing a wave of industrial actions over a number of grievances since the North African giant bought it in 2007.

Some of these strikes have turned nasty, resulting to non-members of SYNATEL, managers and even customers being harassed by the disgruntled workers, and the internet and telephone signal disrupted.

But in a move many observers said could add oil to the fire, the court delivered a stern written warning to the union on request of the management, saying that its striking members will be prosecuted and ordered to pay heavy fines if they carried on with their radical behaviour.

The court, which wants SYNATEL to leave Gabon Telecom alone to carry on 'peacefully' with its activities, has urged security forces to watch over the company premises and ensure that nobody disturbed its peace.

After two days of violent confrontation that saw the company subcribers in the capital cut off the world, an easy calm seems to reign at GT thanks to, among others, the intervention of President Ali Bongo who held urgent talks with union leaders.

SYNATEL constantly accuses the management of ignoring workers’ demands and failing to fulfil its promises.

“We are really trying hard to improve our workers’ living conditions,” newly appointed GT MD Abderahim Koumaa said, adding that the management was open to dialogue to address the union demands, which he said needed more time due to some sensitive aspects.

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