Bezeq workers to reconnect HOT lines

Phone company claims campaign constraints limit telecom competition.

bezeq logo 88 (photo credit:)
bezeq logo 88
(photo credit: )
Bezeq workers said they would reconnect HOT subscribers to the Bezeq network in line with a Tel Aviv Labor Court order Thursday evening, after the workers blocked the calls in protest of regulatory limitations facing the phone company that prevent it from introducing special deals to entice new customers. Bezeq management turned to the court Thursday after HOT and the Communications Ministry made similar appeals on Wednesday to no avail, after the Union cut the connection earlier in the day. "Bezeq management requested from the court to instruct the workers to end their sanctions and reinstate the service," the company said. "The arguments made by the workers against the discriminatory regulations which harm Bezeq are not reasons to strike." Bezeq said it had explained to the workers both verbally and in writing that their actions were harming the company and its customers. Bezeq workers union chairman Shlomo Kfir said the court suggested to the Communications Ministry to meet with management and workers in the next two weeks to settle their differences. Cable company HOT started local telephone service some 18 months ago, bringing competition to Bezeq for the first time. The government has since granted licenses to Golden Lines, Cellcom and Globcall for the service. In its attempt to open the market, the Government has limited Bezeq's ability to offer any discounts to customers until it loses around 15% of the market. HOT said it has 110,000 telephone subscribers to date and recently launched its first major campaign to draw new customers to the service. Meanwhile, Communications Minister Ariel Attias has forwarded a request to Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson to include a discount package that Bezeq can give to larger business customers in the law. Itzik Nimrodi, chief technical officer at HOT, told The Jerusalem Post that the cable company would welcome the deregulations but felt the timing of the discussion was strange. "This is no way to treat competition and they should not be rewarded for it," he said. The Communications Ministry said, however, that the discount had nothing to do with the strike and had been under discussion for a number of months already. Bezeq share dropped 0.3 percent to NIS 578.2 in Tel Aviv Thursday, while HOT's parent company Matav Cable Systems Media lost 0.1% to NIS 33.70.