Tel-One employees in clash with management

Disgruntled Tel-One employees have accused the management, led by managing director Chipo Mtasa, of tightening working conditions in a bid to downsize the workforce.

Tel-One Managing Director, Chipo Mtasa
Tel-One Managing Director, Chipo Mtasa

“The management wants to retrench thousands of workers to save the institution from collapse. As such, the retirement age has been lowered from 65 to 55 years,” said one employee.

Close to bankruptcy, the company is said to be targeting long-serving workers for redundancy, and is using any small mistakes as justification.

Tel-One is the country’s sole fixed telecommunications network operator and has 2,200 employees countrywide. With the advent of wireless service providers such as Econet, Telecel, Netone and Africom, life has been difficult at the parastatal.

“Employees on higher grades are unnecessarily being demoted to lower grades to avoid paying higher salaries,” said another employee. Mtasa dismissed the allegations as false.

“To set the record straight, Tel-One is undergoing a transformation phase in line with the changing trends in the information communication technology sector. This has prompted the company to realign its structure in line with a new strategic drive that the company has adopted. Some jobs have been streamlined and, in the process, other jobs have been created,” Mtasa told The Zimbabwean.

She said Tel-One headquarters at Runhare House had no intention of laying off workers any time soon.

“The official retirement age is 65 years and Tel-One acknowledges this. In 2013, we introduced a pre-retirement counselling and training initiative to help staff in planning for pre-retirement for employees between 55 to 60 years old,” she said.

Mtasa added that there was no record of any Tel-One employee being fired for wrongdoing without a written warning and a disciplinary hearing.

However, a 2013 survey conducted on Tel-One noted a weak communication flow throughout the company and lack of investment in updating technology that resulted in the company losing its competitive edge in the market. It also noted slow implementation of initiatives and concerns over impending restructuring.

Mutasa acknowledged in her MD’s circular of December 2013 that the only thing that would lead to job losses would be a fall in company performance.

“Over the years, we had a natural attrition rate averaging 104 employees per year and this has helped to maintain our numbers within control,” wrote Mtasa.

She said, despite current challenges, all employees received their January salaries by the end of the month.

Post published in: News
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