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Ericsson Kenya staff demand to know retrenchment terms

The Ericsson Group headquarter in Kista, north of Stockholm. The global telecom equipment maker plans to shed jobs. PHOTO | AFP
The Ericsson Group headquarter in Kista, north of Stockholm. The global telecom equipment maker plans to shed jobs. PHOTO | AFP 

Kenyan employees of global electronics giant Ericsson have demanded that the company discloses to them names of those who will be affected by an impending retrenchment.

They want to know who among the 500 persons the company has targeted for retrenchment are in the Kenya office, and the departments to be affected.

The employees claim that an internal newsflash dated May 27 this year sent by the firm’s Head of Human Resources for Sub-Saharan Africa Region Blair Mackenzie, announced a “right-sizing” initiative within the Region (sub-Saharan Africa) adding that the company would immediately commence a voluntary retrenchment.

The employees through lawyer Apollo Mboya have requested Ericsson Kenya Ltd to provide them with details of the severance pay for the first phase of the voluntary retrenchment for each of the countries in the sub-Saharan Region including but not limited to South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Rwanda.

“In respect to the next phase, forced retrenchment, we seek information regarding the targeted number and employees in Kenya, criteria for determining the targeted employees, details of how to enforce the forceful retrenchment, and the mechanisms if any of deterring victimisation of employees,” said Mr Mboya in the letter addressed to the firm.

The workers are also seeking details on any benefits payable to those who will survive, the voluntary and forced retrenchments, and for what period will they continue to work for the company.

They further seek to know the statutory actions and steps taken to effect the said voluntary and forced retrenchments including notices and correspondences to the relevant authorities and targeted employees.

In the communication to employees, the company had stated that it will be its sole discretion to accept or decline a request, and further that the process shall be opened on May 27 until June 10, 2016.

“The voluntary retirement package shall generally consist of country legislated severance and gratuity. The gratuity portion is defined as per the years of service at Ericsson,” reads the communication.

The employees were also notified that the decision of opening, closing, as well as the principles of voluntary retirement remains the sole discretion of Ericsson and therefore no negotiations will be considered.

“An employee who volunteers shall receive the legislated country retrenchment package or as defined in the collective agreements, as well as an Ericsson defined gratuity,” the company said in a communication to employees.

The firm stated that it has constantly been reviewing its business model to improve customer experience so as to remain one of the leaders in the market.

Mr Mboya says the employees are also alarmed that on the same date the internal newsflash was issued, May 27, 2016, all Region Sub-Saharan African employees received a letter, “curiously dated June 30, 2015 which purported to explain the potential retrenchments, and that as an alternative to potential retrenchment, the company is willing to consider voluntary retrenchment for employees.”

The employees have warned that should Ericsson Kenya Ltd fail to provide the information , they will file a case in court challenging the layoffs. 

The letter has been copied to the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Information and Communication, Chairman Communication Authority of Kenya and the Director of Immigration.

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