HomeBusiness DigestTel*One to lay off 1 000 employees

Tel*One to lay off 1 000 employees

Godfrey Marawanyika

STATE telecommunications monopoly Tel*One is set to retrench 1 100 employees to reduce the company’s wage bill.

serif”>The company is now embracing digital technology instead of the analogue system, which has obliged the telecommunications firm to reduce its labour force.

Wellington Makamure, Tel*One managing director, said currently there were about 3 900 workers on the company’s pay roll.

“The process has already started and we have had some positive response from members of staff,” he said.

“The rationale is that this company has been recruiting for some time,” said

Makamure. “We had a large manpower because of the analogue system, but we now have a much faster and better technological programme which has resulted in us seeking to reduce the labour force.”

Tel*One is undertaking the digitalisation programme with the assistance of a Chinese company, Huawei.

The ambitious deal should result in a roll out of Tel*One’s five-year development plan culminating in the issuing of 1,4 million lines.

The first phase of the roll-out project, valued at US$28,9 million and still to be commenced, is running behind schedule as it was billed to be complete by the end of the month.

Tel*One will pay Huawei US$4,3 million, which is 15% deposit for the equipment to be availed to the state owned firm.

Under the deal Tel*One is also expected to raise additional capital worth US$68 million.

The foreign currency crunch in the country has resulted in the telecoms company opting to venture into mining and horticulture to raise hard currency.

Makamure said the retrenchments will result in a “leaner structure since workload will no longer be labour-intensive”.

Currently Tel*One has raised $8 billion which will be used to buy foreign currency on the auction floors.

The initial deposit to Huawei was paid last year and Makamure is hopeful that Tel*One will be able to pay the remainder by the end of the month.

Huawei will only supply the equipment commensurate with what Tel*One pays.

The first phase which will be implemented over a nine-month period will result in construction of 50 base stations and availability of 80 000 lines countrywide.

Tel*One was also looking at implementing the second phase scheduled to commence in the last quarter of 2005. The second phase will see the setting up of 102 base stations and a rollout of 230 000 new lines.

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