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Airtel Nigeria partners deny dismissal rumours

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Spanco Channel BPO Limited and Tech Mahindra, global Business Process Outsourcing companies and providers of Call Centre services to Airtel Nigeria, have labelled as untrue messages in cyberspace and in the media alleging that Airtel had sacked 3,000 call agents due to disagreement over a purported plan to reduce salaries.

Rajan Swaroop, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer for Airtel Nigeria and Inusa Bello, Chief Sales Officer for Airtel Nigeria (image source: file photo)

The companies said in a joint press statement that rather than sack staff they are working on a business model that would see them engage even more workers and make Nigeria the hub of international call centre operations.

K. Sankaralingam, Spanco Africa CEO and Sujit Baksi, President, Corporate Affairs and BSC, Tech Mahindra stated that contrary to the claims of sack, the contract between the two firms and the service providers who hired agents and posted to them ended on September 30, 2011. Spanco and Tech Mahindra now want to hire staff directly, including willing people among the 1600 staff in the call centres in Abuja and Lagos.

The statement read in part, “Last year, following the signing of a landmark BPO Agreement with the Airtel Group, we jointly inherited 1600 Call Centre agents from Bezaleel, HR Index, and CCSNL who hitherto provided agents for the company known then as Zain.

“The contract existing between us and two of the agencies namely, CCSNL and HR Indexx expired effective Friday September 30, 2011. The third agency, Bezaleel’s contract will expire in January 2012. So, there is no issue of mass sack but expiration of existing contracts.

“Prior to the expiration of the contracts, we had engaged representatives of the Agents and that of the organised labour on how to manage their transition to our roll. Due to a lack of consensus on the way forward and an apparent threat to our facilities by some of the agents, we were compelled to suspend operations at the call centres last Friday, September 30, 2011.”

The companies also reiterated commitment to offer some of the affected agents new contracts with attendant salaries and benefits based on their qualifications and experience.

The statement reads, “We will also recruit new agents, because the vision is to expand the Call Centre business in Nigeria to 5000 capacity, ultimately. On the issue of salaries, we state categorically that as world class organisations, we offer our employees remuneration and benefits comparable to standards across the world and in compliance with the working and labour laws of Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, telecommunications service provider Airtel Nigeria on Monday debunked claims that it sacked any staff not to mention 3000 persons.

Speaking through its Director, Human Resources, Jibril Saba, Airtel said the affected agents were at no time its members of staff, but rather inherited workers from the duo of CCSNL and HR Index, two of the three outsourcing companies that had business pact with Zain, as the company was formerly called.

“At no time did Airtel hire directly these employees. They were hired through our third-party agents, and we are not under obligation to discuss with the employees of our third-party agents. We never had them on our pay roll”, said Saba.

Speaking further, Saba stated that Airtel as a responsible employer of choice would never support anything short of acceptable standard of labour engagement as provided for by appropriate Nigerian laws.

Saba reiterated Airtel Nigeria’s commitment to best practice in all aspects of its operations saying it would never allow any of its business partners to implement policies that would affect the morale of persons engaged to render service to the company.

Staff Writer

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