AGGRIEVED workers of Airtel Telecommunication has shut down the two major call centres of the company located in Lagos and Abuja and declared indefinite strike.
They are protesting among others, alleged plan by the management of Spanco and Techmahindra; the core centre service providers for Airtel to disengage 50 percent of the customer service agents in a bid to cut cost.
According to investigation, trouble started about six months ago when the management of Airtel engaged the services of two technical partners from India namely Spanco and Techmahindra to provide core centre services and shops for Airtel.
Before then, the workers were outsourced by Banzeleel, HR Index and CCSNL that were said to have recruited call centre agents for Airtel and had their contract renewed every six 'months before the workers were transferred to the third party agency.
The management of Spanco and Techmahindra had two weeks ago invited the national leadership of NUPTE to a meeting where it presented a proposal to lay off 50 percent of its workforce.
The management is also considering a reduction of salaries by 60 percent under a renegotiated agreement in the contract of the affected workers.
This new proposal will reduce the monthly pay of workers to N30, 000.
Before the new proposal, investigation revealed that a customer service agent in Airtel was paid a monthly salary of N85, 000 (Lagos) and N75, 000 (for Abuja).
The management told the union that the move was to cut the cost of doing business in the country.
Other proposals include: a reduction in the entitlements of customer service agents, increase in working hours from 40 to 48 hours per week and a relocation of the call centres from their present locations.
The negotiations, according to investigation, broke down last Wednesday following the union leaders out rightly rejection of the management proposal which culminated into the declaration of strike.
Secretary of the in-house union, Mr. Ayodeji Olowoniyi, said contrary to the claim by management that the company was not making profits, the company had recorded improved returns in recent years, saying that "Airtel Nigeria generates 46 percent of total revenue of Airtel businesses worldwide."
He added that the decision to disengage workforce on account of increasing cost was unacceptable to the union in view of the fact that the company has been making huge profit.
National President of NUPTE, Alhassan Sunday, confirmed the closure of the Airtel Call Centres and said the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, had waded into the matter and would meet with the affiliate union today to take a position on the issue.
Culled From Vanguard