Telephone workers strike called off in Delhi, Mumbai (Lead)

May 20th, 2009 - 9:48 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Some 8,000 employees of the state-run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL), which runs telecom and Internet services in the national capital and Mumbai, Wednesday called off their three-day old agitation after the management agreed to review their demands including wage hikes.
“The strike has been called off. There will be a meeting of trade unions and the management some time later. All issues will be discussed constructively,” MTNL chairman and managing director R.S.P. Sinha told IANS.

The striking employees were demanding payment of salary according to the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.

“We were supposed to receive salaries according to the Sixth Pay Commission. However, only the bigwigs in the management are blessed with it,” A.K. Kaushik, general secretary of the Telecom Executives Association of MTNL, had told IANS Tuesday.

While the employees are demanding 30 percent fitment in the new pay scales approved by the government recently, the management has agreed to a fitment benefit of 5 percent.

“Even our HRA (house rent allowance) is being given to us according to December 2006 recommendation,” Kaushik said.

But Sinha said the demand for payment of salaries according to the Sixth Pay Commission has been put on hold only for the time being, and that a review will be carried out. “We will sort it out amicably,” he said.

Referring to telephone and Internet lines that were allegedly damaged by the protesters at the onset of the strike, Sinha said: “All the cables that were cut have been repaired and all the MTNL lines are working.”

Landline phones went dead in many parts of the city Monday and Internet services were down, severely affecting operations at many places including the Indira Gandhi International Airport, prompting the MTNL management to file a criminal complaint.

Sinha’s charge has since been denied by the striking workers.

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