Sunday, 4 November 2012

Airtel to close Abuja call centre • Call agents to get lower pay


Leading telecommunications operator, Airtel Nigeria, has started the process of winding down the operation of its call centre in the Federal Capital Territory.
Investigation showed that the operation of the centre would be transferred to Ibadan, and as a result of this, 700 workers in the call centre normally referred to as agents have lost their jobs.
One of the agents who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity said the centre was being managed by an Indian firm, Spanco. He said the closure of the Abuja operation was a ploy to reduce workers emoluments.
According to the source, the movement to Ibadan would see the workers go down from N70,000 a month to N26,000 in salary per employee and most workers opted not move to Ibadan.
It was learnt that in order to ensure an amicable resolution of what would have been a confrontation, the workers were offered severance/retirement deal that saw many of them going home with up to N200,000.
“The severance deal was very attractive because most the workers signed a one-year contract that would end around March 2013. Even though the contract could be renewed, a new deal was not compulsory and a much lower salary is in the offing.
Out of 800 workers, 700 opted out and took the severance option. Only about 100 remained and those ones are ready to go to Ibadan under a scaled-down salary scheme.
“We also learnt that the company has hired 400 call centre agents in Ibadan in preparation for the movement to Ibadan which will happen in December. The new workers would be receiving N26,000 per month.”
Spanco had run into foul whether when it attempted to reduce the salary of the call centre workers from N70,000 to N40,000.
The workers protested, shutting down the operations of the call centre. It took the intervention of Airtel and government agencies to resolve the issue.
Attempt to speak with the spokesman of Airtel, Mr. Emeka Oparah, proved abortive as he neither picked call to his mobile line nor responded to a text message sent to his phone.
However, the company had in the past insisted that the call centre operation was an outsourced service managed by a third party service provider.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Rajan Swaroop, had said Nigeria’s potential as a Business Process Outsourcing destination was very bright if the right things were done.
Swaroop who said this at an interactive session with newsmen in Abuja added that the mobile operator with Indian origin would help Nigeria to harness the possibilities of BPO in the country.
According to him, through outsourcing, Nigeria can create over one million jobs within a short period of time if the potential is harnessed.
The Airtel boss disclosed that one of its partners, Spanco, a specialist in BPO, planned to establish as a hub of its outsourcing operations in the African region.
He added that with increasing wages in India which has a reputation as global outsourcing destination, Nigeria had a good chance to reap from the global outsourcing business reckoned to be worth multi billion dollars per annum.
Swaroop had said, “We have outsourced our Call Centres to Spanco and Tech Mahindra, two of the leading BPOs in the world. They are experienced in Call Centre management even for the biggest networks in the United States.
“In addition, we are expanding our Call Centres to accommodate more agents so our customers’ needs will be adequately served on 24-hour basis. Also, we have introduced several customer retention offers meant to address the specific requirements and reward loyal customers
“As we roll out new Call Centres, more young graduates will be given employment as we promised President Goodluck Jonathan when we arrived in Nigeria. We are expanding our core functions of sales and marketing and operations. That has resulted in growth opportunities for existing staff and new jobs for other experienced Nigerians. I can tell you we are attracting remarkable talents from other telcos and fast-moving consumer goods companies

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