The management of Vodafone Ghana has said that the redundancy programme it has embarked upon is ultimately intended to put the company on top of competition and make it productive and profitable in two years.
In a Question and Answer Sheet designed to explain to workers why the downsizing was necessary, the management said, "We have a two-year target to turn the business around and make it productive and profitable."
Last year, the company reported a loss of 264 million Ghana Cedis. Management said reducing the numbers was in a bid to adopt a new structure that would make the company work better, adding "it is also one of the things we need to do to be on top of the competition". They said the sale of Ghana Telecom (GT) to Vodafone was not a trick to lay off workers, but that it was necessary to make the company operate in a cost effective and efficient manner.
Management noted that generally the way Ghana Telecom worked was being completely reviewed to align the structures, processes, procedures and systems with best practices, and that employees would be trained to work the "Vodafone Way". Till date, Vodafone Ghana has laid off a total of 942 employees through voluntary redundancy which formed part of an ongoing comprehensive restructuring and business transformation process in the company, and is also likely to lead to the closure of some non-core units.
Management of the company recently announced that an additional 950 workers would be laid off compulsorily between now and November 30, 2009 and be paid a severance award of three months' salary for every year of service, plus entrepreneurship training and counselling on how to handle life after Vodafone. They said the downsizing programme was to enable the company to focus on its core business, automate its process, reduce duplication and deliver quality service to its customers and employees.
Management said the affected employees would be informed by the end of this month, and would be paid their severance awards, less any debt owed to either the company or any other institution, by November 30, 2009. They said those entitled to Provident Fund would also be given their entitlements and those under Vodafone-sponsored medical treatment would continue to benefit from the sponsorship even after they had left. Management also said employees who were laid off would lose their mobile phones, laptops, uniforms and ID cards given to them by the company, adding that their mobile numbers would also be changed from 020200xxxx to 020300xxxx.
While the company is laying off employees, it has been recruiting new ones and paying them higher salaries than their co-equals already in service. Management said the recruitment programme focused on some key critical areas to stay competitive, adding that as part of the company's transformation, new skills would be needed. If the compulsory redundancy programme goes through, Vodafone which is the majority shareholder with 70 per cent, would have laid off some 1,892 of the 4,000 workers it inherited from GT.
Meanwhile the government of Ghana, the minority shareholder with 30 per cent, has not yet made any pronouncement on the ongoing redundancy programme. It has commissioned a review of the Vodafone deal, and is awaiting a report before taking a firm decision on what to do with Vodafone.
Executives of unionized workers of Vodafone, the National Executive of the Communications Workers Union (CWU), and the Trades Union Congress slammed the compulsory redundancy programme when it was unilaterally announced by management recently. Management last week violated an internal arrangement under a Standing Joint Negotiating Committee, which enjoined them to have consulted union before going public with the announcement.
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