Workers at state-owned operator Telecom Kosovo (TK) – which operates under the Vala brand – have threatened to go on strike from 30 July if the company renews its contract with MVNO Z Mobile, Koha writes. TK’s union has blamed the company’s current financial and operational difficulties on the MVNO contract, claiming that the deal – originally signed in 2009 and due to expire next month – was ‘criminal’. The matter is being investigated as part of a parliamentary commission into the state of TK that has been interviewing and collecting testimony from current and former TK officials since May 2019 and has already reported evidence of widespread corruption and nepotism at the telco.
The subject came to the fore earlier this year when Z Mobile threatened to seek the enforcement of a ruling from an international court on the relationship between TK and Z Mobile. In 2016 a London arbitration court had ruled in favour of Z Mobile, awarding the company EUR32 million (USD36.1 million) in damages and fees, requiring TK to open its 3G and 4G networks to the MVNO, and provide more numbering resources to Z Mobile. TK’s appeal against the decision was rejected in early 2017 but it was then reported that the MVNO agreed to waive the bulk of the funds included in the settlement to prevent TK from going bankrupt. Z Mobile is now denying that it said it would not collect the fees, claiming that it had instead been attempting to agree a plan with TK to pay the compensation, totalling around EUR26 million (the reduced sum is understood to reflect an earlier payment and the exclusion of certain interest fees included in the original award). TK was given until 15 June to finalise a plan with Z Mobile but to-date there have been no further announcements.