The ongoing MTN call centre employees strike lead by the Communications Workers Union (CWU) has taken an ugly turn with allegations that some contracts have been disconnected by strikers in order to spite the mobile network.

An MTN customer sent an SMS to the John Robbie breakfast show on 702 Talk Radio this morning complaining about problems with his phone and network service since 20th May and was told about the contract switch-offs by a worker from MTN’s Springs branch. While MTN hasn’t confirmed the allegations, a senior company executive did admit there was a possibility some contracts had been turned off and that investigations were underway.

“I can’t get my phone switched on and if you call the 808 number the computer tells you ‘Sorry, we cannot assist you’. Please John, I’m losing money everyday as my customers can’t get hold of me,” read the SMS.

On Tuesday, CWU president Clyde Mervin said on Jo’burg-based radio station Kaya FM that the union and workers would unleash all their ammunition on MTN.

Robbie got in touch with MTN’s chief human resources office, Themba Nyathi who didn’t quite confirm the claim but did apologise to customers for any convenience caused.

Nyathi initially said that because the strike is call centre-related, it doesn’t affect any of the network’s other services, but when Robbie repeated the question, Nyathi then said there is a possibility that some contracts have been switched off.

“At the moment we are busy investigating, as you know with any strike action in order for it to be very effective people are going to try and sabotage things, but we are investigating together with police and law enforcement agencies,” he said.

//UPDATED – MTN has now reportedly denied these claims, telling TechCentral that the comments are “classic disinformation”. We’ve attempted to contact MTN for comment without success.

Nyathi also noted that there have been a few cases of extreme violence with one worker at a KwaZulu-Natal call centre having being stoned by other striking employees, while another had his car stoned and was almost stabbed.

Nyathi condemned the attacks and said the company has gotten a court interdict against CWU.

“People have a right to exercise their right to strike or not,” Nyathi said.

You can listen to the full interview below.

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