GrameenPhone again embarks on manpower cut: Panic grips most employees

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Grameenphone, country’s largest cell phone company, has embarked on major operational cost-cutting measures that include the downsizing of its manpower in some specific sections of the company.

The cost-cutting measures, according to sources, are aimed at enabling the company to foot the government bills for 2G and 3G licences.

But the sudden decision to downsize its manpower has created panic among most employees of the company that saw substantial rise in its annual profit-earning in recent years.

At present around 4800 employees, both permanent and contractual, are working in different sections of the GP.

The victims of the latest cost cutting measures are in most cases permanent employees who worked in the sales and services departments. The company has abolished its logistics services in all regional offices and in the case of sales it has reduced the number of posts and declared the remaining post vacant. Interestingly, it has asked all the sales staff either to compete afresh for the vacant posts or take an attractive ‘exit’ package.

According to the sources, more than 1,500 GP employees, most of who worked on temporary basis, lost their jobs during the last five years.

“This is not job cut, rather an initiative of minimising redundancy, created out of normal business process,” Kazi Monirul Kabir, chief communication officer (CCO) of the GP, told the FE Sunday while explaining the existing situation.

This kind of redundancy is created when a company attains maturity after operating a longer period of time, he said, adding that it is also a global practice.

He mentioned that the redundancy-minimising process had been made applicable for both contractual and permanent employees, and it is done following legal procedures. But he did not mention the number of jobs that have already been cut.

However, one GP official, who has been recently terminated, said now he is facing an ‘image crisis’ following his unexpected job cut. He also mentioned that “compensation is not all… it is a worrisome and pathetic trend.”

The company spent a total of Tk 6.91 billion on salary and other allowances of its staffs in 2011. The amount was Tk 6.27 billion in 2010 and Tk 4.49 billion in 2009, according to the company’s financial report.

The mobile operator, with 43 per cent share of the country’s cell-phone market with a subscriber base of 37.748 million, took such a decision when its operating profit soared to Tk 32,572 million in 2011, which was Tk 20,207 million in 2010.

Talking about redundancy, Mr Kabir told the FE that they are trying to adjust the additional employees in other departments ‘with or without competition’, if possible, or they are paying full compensation package to those employees according to the GP’s human resource policy.

The massive job cut in the company started in mid-2007 when the country’s telecom regulator imposed fine on almost all mobile operators for their involvement in illegal VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) business.

The GP authority again took the decision relating to minimising its cost last year, apparently, due to the payment of its second generation (2G) licence renewal fee, as the company has to pay nearly Tk 32 billion by 2013. Already, the operator has already paid 49 per cent of the total amount.

Besides, the company needs a substantial amount of money for offering third generation (3G) mobile phone services to its subscribers.

The sources said the job cut is going on in different GP divisional offices, as the necessity of those offices is over. Besides, the number of officials in the company is still comparatively higher than that of other operators, they claimed.

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