Emirates International Telecommunications (EIT), which owns a 35% stake in Tunisie Telecom (TT), has warned that union activity within the telco could potentially give foreign investors a negative image of the country. ‘At this point in time, if potential foreign investors look to Tunisie Telecom as a case study for what it is like to invest in the country, we think that they would have a lot of questions about how secure their investment would be,’ EIT chief executive officer Deepak Padmanabhan told AFP.
Employees at Tunisie Telecom have gone on strike three times since the departure of the country’s president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January, protesting against the hiring of some 63 experienced workers on renewable fixed-term contracts, skirting its way around a rigid public sector recruiting system that would not have permitted providing competitive salaries. Picketers reportedly claim that monthly salaries of the contracted employees at managerial level were at a minimum of TND4,000 (USD2,879), while the average salary for managers was around TND1,500 dinars.
EIT acquired its stake in TT in 2006 for USD2.25 billion, becoming the largest single foreign direct investment in the country. EIT is a subsidiary of Dubai Holding, a diversified group owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of the Dubai.