Africa’s biggest mobile operator, MTN, which is grappling with an eightweek strike at its South African operations, plans to cut hundreds of jobs.
Citing unnamed sources close to the company, Reuters quoted a South Africa local newspaper as saying that MTN would go through with layoffs as the strike had shown the company could do without some of its workforce. A spokesman for MTN declined to comment on the report, saying the company was in a closed period. Job cuts are a thorny issue in South Africa, where often violent union militancy has been on the rise and the unemployment rate is over 25 per cent.
The Chief Executive of MTN’s South African unit, Ahmed Farouk, resigned earlier this month as the strike by 2,000 workers dragged on. In a related development, New Telegraph had exclusively reported that there has been palpable anxiety in the Nigerian operation of the telecoms company as a change of outsourcing firm for MTN call centre operation is expected to result in likely loss of jobs.
An estimated 4,000 call centre agents with CNSS (Contact Centre) Limited, an indigenous company, had been handling MTN call centre operations in the country before now.
In its place, Ison BPO Limited, an Indian-based Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) company, is billed to take full charge of MTN outsourcing business in Nigeria.
Already, Ison will today (Tuesday) make an official appearance to announce its entrance into the Nigerian telecoms market at a press conference being organised n Lagos.
It was gathered that the call centre agents at CNSSL have raised concerns over ‘enslavement, poor staff welfares and job cuts’ that may characterise the coming of the Indian firm. However, MTN Nigeria’s General Manager, Public Affairs, Mrs. Funmi Onajide, had said the exercise was not meant to lay off its call centre agents in the country.
According to her, the outsourcing of the call centre operation to the Indian firm was not a “staff rationalisation/ retrenchment exercise” but rather an exercise carried out “in line with global best practices.” She noted that, as a company that has invested over $13 billion (over N2 trillion) in the Nigerian economy, MTN was committed to working with indigenous companies and other players in the market in a competitive manner.