Kathmandu, August 21:

Employees of Nepal Telecom (NT), a sole operator of cellular mobile phone services, have announced a week-long protest programmes demanding an early resumption of pre-paid mobile service and other suspended services. The Central Joint Struggle Committee (CJSC) that comprises of two official trade unions at NT — Nepal Telecom Workers Union (NTCWU) and Nepal Telecom Employees Association (TEAN) — today launched a series of fresh protest programmes. They also gheraoed the managing director’s office for two hours. Announcing the protest programmes, Tanka Lal Shrestha, president of TEAN and Kumar Jung Karki, president of NTCWU said that the third phase of protest programme would be continued until the pre-paid mobile phone service and other suspended telecom services of NT come into smooth operation.

The employees’ demands include immediate resumption of pre-paid and post-paid mobile phone services (some parts outside valley) as well as compensation to losses incurred due to disruption of services. According to the third phase protest programme, the NT employees will gherao the MD’s office for three hours on Monday, four hours on Tuesday and five hours on Wednesday. On Thursday, the struggle committee will not allow the NT management to enter the office from 10am to 1pm. The last programme will be ‘pen down and tools down’ from August 27, halting the NT administrative services. In a press release, the joint struggle committee has questioned over ‘moral intention’ of Lokman Singh Karki, secretary at the ministry of information and communications, who was absent at the test launching of the proposed basic telephone service based on CDMA technology by NT.

But he was present at the soft launching of Spice Nepal’s mobile phone service. Ironically, the secretary happens to be the chairman of NT. “A group of telecom mafia has been active to bankrupt the NT, which is a source of livelihoods for over 6,000 employees and their thousands of dependants,” adds the release. Disruption of various telecom services has already crossed over six and half months following new political development in the country, causing a loss of over Rs 1.5 billion to the NT. “The concerned authorities are not paying attention towards resumption of the pre-paid mobile phone service even after the re-registration,” states the release. The struggle committee has also warned the NT management not to sign any agreement with Spice Nepal for interconnection or interlink service until NT’s all suspended services come into smooth operation. Citing the security reasons, the government halted the cellular mobile phone services since February 1. Although, NT partially resumed the post-paid services in the Kathmandu valley since May 2 and later on to limited cities outside the valley, it has not yet restarted the pre-paid mobile phone service.