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#4867: Haiti phone company workers strike for better pay (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

WIRE:08/09/2000 15:47:00 ET
 Haiti phone company workers strike for better pay
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Employees struck Haiti"s state-owned       
phone company, Teleco, for a third day Wednesday, shutting down the    
firm"s headquarters in a wage dispute. A security guard at the Teleco
 headquarters in Port-au-Prince told  Reuters that administrative
employees and most technicians did not show up for work Wednesday and
the office was closed.Independent Radio Metropole said most Teleco    
offices nationwide were also closed. There were no reports of widespread
outages in the Caribbean nation, where telephone service is
traditionally spotty, but business officials said serious problems could
arise if the protest continued. Teleco"s 1,000 workers, who  currently
receive 12 months" pay plus a one-month bonus, asked for another month
of pay annually. Some called for the resignation of Teleco Managing
Director Jean Francois Chamblain after he refused to grant their        
request. Chamblain is a close friend and former adviser of President
Rene Preval and a relative of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
The employees, who are not unionized, began their strike Monday. Armed
members of a grass-roots political  party, who were also Teleco
employees, ordered co-workers to leave the eight-story headquarters in
 Port-au-Prince. Most Teleco workers stayed home Tuesday and Wednesday.
Critics have said the telephone company, which has a nationwide         
monopoly, is overstaffed and hampered by nepotism. Plagued by poverty,
rugged terrain and political turmoil, Haiti has fewer than 100,000 phone
lines for a population of 7.5 million people. It is usual for phones to
be out of order for one or two years before being repaired. Teleco,
along with the airport, electric company and the sea port, are among
state-owned companies scheduled to be privatized. Haiti"s state-owned
flour milling company and cement company already have been sold.