Liquid Telecom South Africa will embark on a retrenchment programme amid a major restructuring of the business, TechCentral can reveal.
The staff reductions will likely involve at least 50 staff, making it a large-scale retrenchment exercise under the Labour Relations Act.
In an interview, CEO Reshaad Sha said he isn’t yet able to say exactly how many employees will be affected. This will only be known once a consultation process gets under way. Liquid Telecom employs about 1 100 people in South Africa. A voluntarily early retirement programme for employees older than 55 will form part of the staff reduction plan. Elsewhere, redundant positions have been identified across the organisation.
“We have been examining our operating model and have worked out that there are a number of areas that are not optimally designed to serve our customer base the way we’d like to serve them,” Sha said.
He added that Liquid has developed a “digitally enhanced” operating model, in which some processes will be digitised and automated. The company announced the restructuring plans to staff on Monday morning.
Some new roles will be introduced as part of the new operating model, and employees will be able to apply for those, Sha said.
No Liquid Telecom employees are unionised. “But that won’t prevent us from treating everyone fairly,” he said.
Staff will be engaged fully, and the process will be transparent, he added. The broader Liquid Telecom group is not contemplating layoffs in its operations elsewhere in Africa.
Liquid Telecom, which is controlled by Zimbabwean billionaire Strive Masiyiwa, acquired Neotel in 2017 in a R6.5-billion deal. It bought a 70% stake in the business from India’s Tata Communications and other shareholders, giving Masiyiwa’s Econet Group its first significant presence in the South African market. Royal Bafokeng Holdings bought the remaining 30%, ensuring the company is empowered at an equity level.
Liquid swooped on Neotel after Vodacom, under regulatory pressure, failed to consummate a deal to acquire the company.
Sha took the reins at Liquid Telecom South Africa in June. He was previously a director and chief strategy officer of Dark Fibre Africa and CEO of Internet of things network operator SqwidNet. — © 2018 NewsCentral Media