Fully trained, and qualified local engineers and other skilled professionals (accountants, project managers etc) were last year asked to leave Chinese Technological Company, Huawei, in a technical sense, to create space for their Chinese counterparts.

According to a source privy to the deals, all the local Huawei Staff (who had been contracted to Huawei via a management firm called Insight Management Consultants) were moved to another engineering contractor, called Whitespace, as its new employees.

The employees were forced to sign a document, virtually transferring themselves
from one employer to another, under false pretense that the terms and conditions will remain the same (which if it is true, then why move them at all).

The employees were given less than a week to sign the document and move to the new company, as its full employees, which is a subcontractor to Huawei.

“A huge number of the local professionals were forced to sign a letter of termination from the management firm they were contracted to (without a month’s prior notice as had been stipulated in the contract letter they had signed upon employment), and then at the same time sign a letter of employment with the new subcontractor, for an initial six-month contract, after which the renewals will be done at the behest of the subcontractor and
for which no guarantee whatsoever has been offered,” said our source who sought anonymity.

Investigations done by Kahawa Tungu reveal that the Chinese Company does not hire Kenyan professionals directly, but uses Insight Management Consultants to hire employees for them, who in turn work directly for Huawei, but have their contracts signed through Insight Management.

According to the source who is well conversant with operations at Huawei, the company they were to go to, Whitespace, is known to go for months without paying its staff, at the
pretext of waiting for to be paid by their clients first. In essence this means that Huawei is basically firing a huge chunk of its local staff, only that they will do it after six months, and via a different contractor.

Data from the technological giant indicates that  a locally trained and fully qualified professional is paid less than Ksh50,000 as a starting salary, while their Chinese counterpart (who comes fresh and inexperienced and the local staff cordially teaches him how the work is done) in the name of a ‘consultant’ that knows nothing earns up to $200 (Ksh20,000) a day.

Worse still, the company is alleged to be sidelining and demoting expectant women, and as soon as they return from their maternity leave, find ways of simply frustrating them and sending them home.

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“In fact some of the Chinese bosses have been overheard remarking that, ‘Kenyan women get pregnant all the time, they are always going on maternity leave. This doesn’t happen in China’,” says our source.

The management also forces their employees to install the company’s applications on their personal phones, apps which have been shown to track their movements, access their personal phone logs, photos among many other personal items. Being a technological company that manufactures phones, they can easily empower their staff by issuing them with company phones to do the company’s work, something they avoid.

Huawei also requires its staff to send an official email to ask for approval to travel out of Nairobi during weekends and public holidays,  also stating whom they will be travelling with, for what purpose and duration, failure to which they will be “punished” should they dare to travel without receiving approval from 2-3 managers.

The staff who have come in are believed to have come in from other regional offices, and have a duty on their hands to find a job locally or be asked to go back home. In that context, Kenyans working for the technological company might be the sacrificial lamps.

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