A jobs bloodbath is looming at pay-television operator MultiChoice, which said on Friday it will enter into a “consultation process” with 2 194 employees in its call centre operation and the walk-in centres as part of the strategic realignment of its customer service delivery model”.
The ICTU trade union has already accused the company of not fully informing it of the plan, something which it claims makes the process “unlawful” under the Labour Relations Act.
MultiChoice South Africa said the “realignment” is in response to the “changing behaviour of its customers, who are increasingly moving away from traditional voice calls and visits to walk-in centres and adopting new self-service and digital technologies to engage with the company”.
It said it will make new roles available for “multi-skilled employees with the expertise, skills and technological prowess to enhance the customer experience”.
“This has not been an easy decision to make but, in a business driven by advancing technologies, we must continue to drive efficiencies yet be agile enough to adapt to evolving customer needs to ensure that we remain relevant, competitive and sustainable,” said CEO Calvo Mawela in a statement.
“We must act decisively to align to the change in customer behaviour and competition from (over-the-top, or OTT) services (like Netflix) because if we don’t reposition now, we run the risk of being completely misaligned and we put everyone’s jobs at risk.”
ICTU’s Thabang Mothelo told TechCentral the union will “seek urgent engagement” with MultiChoice. “The employer has timed Friday to make the announcement, which shows some cowardice tendencies of not dealing with the consequences of their actions,” the union said in a statement. Mothelo said ICTU will write to MultiChoice management and hopes to get a formal response to its concerns by Monday.
MultiChoice said its self-service digital channels have continued to grow, and now account for 70% of all customer service contacts.
“The company is also in an environment where it will rely more on technology than people, as it faces increased competition from technologically advanced and unregulated OTT platforms,” it said.
“The video entertainment sector is seeing a rapid evolution with a growing number of players that have entered the industry. We have worked hard to minimise the impact of this business realignment on our people — those directly impacted by the process and their colleagues in the rest of the business.”
The consultation process with affected employees will take place over 60 days.
“As part of a comprehensive support programme agreed with unions and other employee representative forums, the company will be offering voluntary severance packages, wellness support and financial planning, and will continue paying for current studies for MultiChoice bursary-funded employees and relevant skills development among a range of benefits for impacted employees.” — (c) 2019 NewsCentral Media