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Safaricom Now Retiring and Muzzling Call Centre Staff Impaired by Cheap Headsets

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A group of 20 former and current Safaricom customer care agents, some “retired” because they could not use headsets anymore, are now taking legal action against Safaricom. The agents who have sought redress from almost every institution and have been blocked by Safaricom killing their story through intimidation, arm-twisting and bribery. The list of those they have told their story to reads like a who-is-who in the Kenyan media.

Safaricom has relied on cheap headsets at its Customer Care facility located along Mombasa road. Now most of current and former call-centre staff are suffering from Acoustic Shock syndrome. This is a medical disorder experienced by people exposed to unbalanced sound which becomes traumatic. Read about the disorder here.

What is scary is that Safaricom chose to retire them due to the illness caused by working at Safaricom and they were given a very unfair retirement package of 2 months salary for every year worked and no medical cover. You would expect Safaricom to at least provide life cover to such persons since working at Safaricom impaired them in one way or the other. The above illness is just one of the many medical complications being experienced by Safaricom call-centre staff. Most are Ear Nose and Throat related ailments.

Listen to this recording from one of the staff hearing sessions

According to the doctors’ reports, most the call centre staff were to be re-deployed away from receiving calls but the company instead chose to retire them in October 2012 without compensation. Safaricom arrogantly claims that they are not the cause of the former staff’s condition and yet their doctors (approved by the company) did indicate that the medical complications experienced by the former staff was as a result of prolonged use of the cheap headsets.

Safaricom then bribed some Ministry of Labour officials and then recommended that the staff go to the ministry for assessment before retirement. I have communications and medical reports of around 17 former and current Safaricom customer care officials who feel used and abused by the most profitable company in East and Central Africa. Some who are still working at Safaricom fear for their jobs since Safaricom does not tolerate them communicating even with lawyers.

Safaricom again totally avoided written communication with the aggrieved staff so that they could not be held responsible.

Safaricom’s Director of Resources wrote this letter to one of the employees

From: Joseph Ogutu
Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2012 5:25 PM
To: Medical Incapacity
Subject: RE-DEPLOYMENT PROCEDURE

Dear All,

I refer to the meeting held with the CEO and myself to address the concerns you were having regarding the newly implemented Re-deployment Procedure.

As you are aware, the purpose of the Re-deployment Procedure is to set the company standard to address matters of occupational illness and occupational injury. As agreed at the meeting, I wish to confirm that the company will offer you, over and above any statutory payment stipulated in your employment contract, the following one time ex-gratia package in special consideration and goodwill;

i. Two months’ salary for every year worked or 6 months’ salary whichever is higher

ii. Medical cover up to 31st December 2012
Additionally, following your request to review the start date of the re-deployment period from 17th May 2012 to 1st June 2012, I wish to confirm the request as granted. To this end, the Re-deployment period will be in force until 31st August 2012.

I urge you to continue visiting the intranet for any job vacancies arising and which you may be interested making applications for. Selection and placement will follow the normal recruitment process as stipulated in the Recruitment Policy.

Please note that Individual letters will be issued to you and a copy retained in your personal file.

Regards,
Joseph Ogutu
Director Resources

Calls and SMS to Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, have not been answered. We hope that the company will come out and address the problems. Declaring billions in profits while they continue to destroy lives is just not right.

Written by Robert

Respected Kenyan blogger, tech evangelist, and social justice activist. Robert is known for his hard-hitting articles and opinions disseminated through his Twitter handle @RobertAlai or Facebook page (www.fb.com/RobertAlai).

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