Staff at embattled state-owned telco Kosovo Telecom have threatened to strike following a warning from Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj that employees at the operator might have to take a 10%-20% pay cut to save the company from bankruptcy, Balkans Insight reports. Lahim Balaj, the head of the telco’s union, said: ‘The statement from the PM was wrong … other unnecessary expenses can be cut. The damage to Telecom cannot be covered by employees’ salaries.’ In addition to the PM’s comments, the government said it was unlikely to provide the EUR60 million (USD70 million) the telco needs to pay its creditors.
The operator’s financial struggles have been attributed to the cessation of funding from Pristina since 2010, when the government made its first attempt to privatise the company. Since then, the state has reportedly continued to take dividends but limited re-investment, even amidst falling revenues as competition intensifies. Close ties between government officials and Kosovo Telecom’s board has also drawn accusations of corruption from commentators but no official charges have been made. For its part, meanwhile, the government has blamed excessive spending at the telco for the company’s current crisis, refusing to invest additional funds to rescue the operator.