News From Telecom World

Hundreds of drivers sue GrameenPhone

Posted on: October 15, 2008

Hundreds of drivers used by Grameenphone officials have sued the mobile operator accusing the company of violating labour laws.

A senior GP spokesman, however, has shrugged off the allegations.

Out of 750 drivers, 454 have filed separate cases with the Labour Court, according to documents obtained bdnews24.com.

“GP drivers have to work for 10 hours a day,” said Nur-e-Alam, one of the plaintiffs. “And there is mandatory 2 hours of overtime everyday,” he said.

According to Bangladesh’s labour laws, working overtime cannot be mandatory.

The drivers allege they have not been issued with any appointment letters though they were interviewed by GP officials. They said the vacancy announcements were posted on the notice board inside GP office premises.

“Even those who have been with GP since the beginning have no appointment letters,” Alam told bdnews24.com.

“They are not our employees. They are third party employees,” Syed Yamin Bakht, GP’s Director of Information and CSR, told bdnews24.com.

So who employs these drivers?

The company, from which GP rents cars, says the drivers are not its employees.

An official of the car company, Smart Services Ltd, in a court hearing refused to take responsibility for the drivers.

On March 30 this year the drivers went on strike, demanding wages and benefits according to the Geneva Convention, international and national labour laws. The event went unreported in the mainstream media, the drivers say. They staged a demonstration in front of GP’s Gulshan headquarters.

At the time, GP chief executive Anders Jensen promised them appointment letters, due salaries and benefits according to the labor laws.

The drivers say they waited nearly three months before resorting to legal action.

On June 22, as many as 454 drivers filed separate cases against GP in the First Labour Court of Dhaka charging the company with breaching labour laws.

The court ordered no suspension or transfer of the plaintiffs until the matter was resolved.

But, the drivers allege, the country’s largest phone operator was not listening. They say GP halted salaries and allowances of 14 of drivers following the lawsuit, disregarding the court order. These 14 again went to court and filed a further 14 cases, following which the court summoned the CEO to appear.

On June 26, the drivers staged another round of demonstrations in front of the labour courts.

The same day, GP authorities filed a case against the demonstrating employees with Gulshan police, charging them with theft.

GP alleged the drivers stole about 700 ‘Dalas Keys’, devices used to track vehicle movement.

“Each one of us is provided with a Dalas Key from GP as the cars will not move without the driver punching the key into a device attached to the vehicles,” Kamrul Hasan Uzzal, another aggrieved driver, told bdnews24.com.

“We must always carry them as per instructions. How do they charge us with stealing them?” he said.

Source: bdnews24

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