Friday, 13 February 2009

GT workers unhappy with Vodafone’s job cut threats

By Osabutey ANNY

It's almost becoming a question of 'I told you so' as workers of the Ghana Telecommunications Company come to terms with plans by the new majority share holders to cut a substantial number of jobs.

The Vodafone-led management has started a nicely convinced strategy by making job-cut overtures to its workers, but some of the workers are unhappy with the move. Information gathered by the dailyEXPRESS from the head office of the company on Wednesday indicate that majority of the workers who demonstrated in favour of the 70% sale of the company to the UK-based Vodafone are now licking their wounds.

According to memos reportedly circulated, staff were reminded of an impending staff lay off, which would affect mostly the junior staff and some senior staff members who intend to retire. Our sources have confirmed that the voluntary retirement package, which is targeted at staff within the senior management level, is meant to quell agitation within the junior ranks- but they are buying none of that.

At the time of the dailyEXPRESS visited the premises, some workers who were on break were heard discussing the proposal. One of them who declined to give his name said "I was one of those persons who carried placards and demonstrated in support of the sale, now look at what they are doing to us." He said most of his colleagues are not happy about the proposal and will try and meet with the incoming Minister for Communication to impress upon management to rescind their decision.
He said though he was not articulating the concerns of any other worker his frustrations are the same as those who are yet to speak on the issue.

Another worker questioned the action, telling this reporter that he remembers an assurance that their jobs were secured. He described the intended lay-offs and the PR-managed offer of incentives to voluntarily resign or retire as a gimmick to deceive both the workers and Ghanaians.
Workers of Ghana Telecom declared their support for the sale of seventy percent (70%) shares of the company to Vodafone despite strong reservations expressed by the generality of Ghanaians. Throughout the regional offices, workers through what many believed to be carefully stage-managed actions influenced by the Oduro-Nyani management, staged series of demonstrations to lend support for the sale.

They argued among others that the company was making losses and unable to compete with other operators in the market, noting that the company will collapse if the shares are not disposed off to a global brand.

Head of Corporate Affairs Major Albert Don Chebe (Rtd) in wide ranging interviews including the BBC Business Daily programme stated categorically that it was important for government to sell the company because management of which he was a member was in no position to rescue the sinking image of Ghana Telecom. Sounding rather political in his assertions, Major Don Chebe (Rtd) described as "populists" members of the Committee for Joint Action (CJA) who demonstrated and petitioned parliament against the sale.

The umbrella body of Ghanaian workers, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) was among the many groups that kicked against the sale. Their leader, Kofi Asamoah, was however chastise by the then president, John Kufuor who claimed that the TUC boss does not understand the details of the contract and must educate himself on it before making any comments. His basis was that workers of the company were supportive of the sale and asked the TUC to terms with the workers stand.

Government has meanwhile promised to review the Sale & Purchase Agreement with Vodafone in order to ensure among others that the country’s ICT developmental plans and the national operationalisation of the fibre optic network is not jeopardized.

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