Telecom firm lays off workers

Monday March 30 2015

Security officers stand outside the new

Security officers stand outside the new Africell head offices, formerly Orange Telecom Towers, on Clement Hill Road, yesterday. PHOTO BY STEPHEN OTAGE 

By Mark Keith Muhumuza


Four months after taking over Orange Uganda, Africell is reducing its head-count to cut operating costs. Last Friday, the company issued termination letters to 59 members of staff in a move the company said would allocate “proper resources into improving operational activities.”

The affected staff are from various departments but the sales department has been heavily affected. Other senior positions have also been affected as Africell seeks to cut a “bloated salary structure.” The national sales manager, chief legal officer and brand and communications manager are the senior positions that have been restructured.

In an e-mail to Africell staff seen by Daily Monitor, Mr Mohammad Ghaddar, the chief operating officer Africell Uganda, said they had identifed areas of potential growth for the company.

“We have also come to believe that this can only be achieved by applying profound structural changes that will establish a solid ground for the teams to direct their activities sensibly towards the company goals,” Mr Ghaddar wrote.
Daily Monitor talked to some of the affected staff last Friday and they confirmed Africell had been making changes since they took-over from Orange.

“All the field facilitation, per diem, fuel, car maintenance and medical cover were put on hold when Africell took over,” one of them recounted to Daily Monitor.

Africell confirmed the development in the statement issued by Mr Ghaddar last Friday. Mr Ghaddar said Orange wanted out because it could not sustain the repeated losses.

“We took a losing operation which had been classified by the auditors as a ‘non-going concern’ – which means it was considered to be a non-viable business – and we are turning it around,” Mr Ghaddar says in a statement.

The laid-off staff we talked to had concerns, especially regarding terminal benefits. Last Friday morning, some of the staff reported to work like any other normal operating day. “When we got to office, we were denied access and they told us to go to Kabira Country Club.

So they tell us that a management decision has been made for us to be laid-off. However, the package we were given was only for one month yet notice was never issued,” one of them told Daily Monitor.

This newspaper understands the two parties will meet today (Monday) to negotiate further on the issue of terminal benefits.

Tough times ahead
Mr Ghaddar describes what is happening as a “painful exercise of making changes to the structure.” “There will be tough times ahead for a short while but that will change for the better. Almost certainly, some people will develop negative publicity and sentiments,” he adds.