It is my guess that we all know that after buying out Zain, Airtel Kenyan restructured it’s way of doing business as far as in-house logistics was concerned… As part of the restructuring, Airtel, the second largest mobile operator in Kenya, in 2011 (last year) transferred its customer care staff to Indian business processing outsourcing (BPO) firm, Spanco, effective February 1 2011.
Some 61 employees on permanent contracts and several others on short-term contracts with the company, were moved to Spanco. The then Airtel chief human resources officer for Africa, Vves Mayilamene, said that the transfer to Spanco was part of a strategy to reorganise the company to fit into its growth strategy.
“The benefits accrued by staff will be retained as per their contractual terms. There will be no cuts in compensation now or in the future,” Mr Mayilamene said.
He added that part of the agreement with Spanco is a lock-in period to ensure staff continue to enjoy the same salary scale for a six-month period.
“There is a two-year come-back clause where employees who want to join Airtel will have an opportunity to do so. So jobs are protected,” he said in an interview at the company’s Parkside Towers offices. Read more on: http://allafrica.com/stories/201101280122.html
However, things seems to have changed. The staff transfered to Spanco Raps Kenya Limited have complained that the agreement has not been met. Their attempts to have their plea discussed with the management of both companies have been met with coldness and threats…
In a bid to stand for their right, the staff decided to seek legal redress. Through Rachier & Amolo Advocates, the employees gave a seven (7) day notice to the management of Airtel Kenya which expires today (14th August 2012) demanding that their rights be respected and that the earlier agreement be honored to the latter failure to which they will proceed to institute a legal proceeding against the company for wrongful/unlawful termination of employment.
Below is the letter from Rachier and Amolo Advocates which was delivered to Airtel Kenya and copied to Spanco Raps Kenya Limited early last week.
Juma/Gen/12 7th August, 2012
RE: UNFAIR TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT WITHOUT COMPENSATION CONTRARY TO THE EMPLOYMENT ACT, 2007
Our services have been retained by our clients, see attached list, on whose instructions we write and address you as hereunder:
That our clients were until 1st February, 2011, your employees, deployed in your customer care department, having been employed on diverse dates as far back as eight years before.
Sometime on or about the 19th January, 2011, in a letter to our clients, you informed them of your decision to terminate their employment with yourselves and transfer them to a totally independent company known as Spanco Raps Kenya Limited (hereinafter “the said Company”), facts whereof are well within your knowledge. Our clients were nevertheless not privy to the negotiations between yourselves and the said Company.
When this happened, our clients were not happy as they had not been consulted, neither were they given a chance to seek legal counsel. They registered their dissatisfaction with you to no avail.
In a bid to assure them of their future, which by your action had suddenly become bleak, you did inform them, inter alia:
That they would be employed by Spanco under the same terms as those under which they served you;
That their terminal benefits such as service pay would be transferred to Spanco; and
That there would be a window period of two years within which anybody dissatisfied with the arrangement would be free to come back.
It is our clients’ contention, facts whereof are within your knowledge, that their transitioning to Spanco has never benefitted them as you had earlier intimated. They have suffered loss of a number of benefits they were entitled to while under your employment. All these have happened within the window period of two years.
Despite your assurance before moving our clients to Spanco, that they would be free to return if dissatisfied within two years, their pleas to come have been met with great hostility; your response being that their jobs are no longer available. This amounts to redundancy for which they are entitled to recover severance pay.
On the same token, their efforts to claim their service pay from Spanco to whom you allegedly transferred the same, albeit without consultation, have hit a snag; with the latter saying that there was no such arrangement. We hold you entirely accountable to our clients for this. It is worth of note that upon termination of our client’s employment, you had a statutory obligation to settle them in terms of their terminal benefits; including service pay, which obligation cannot be delegated as you purported to.
Thirdly, your decision to terminate our clients’ employment and hand them over to a total stranger with whom they had no contractual relationship, amounts to unfair termination for which we hold you liable for unfair termination.
We now hereby DEMAND your admission of liability to our clients in respect of unfair termination, redundancy and payment of terminal benefits so that we may address you on quantum.
TAKE NOTICE that should we not receive your admission of liability within seven (7) days from the date hereof, our peremptory instruction, which we shall dutifully discharge is to institute recovery proceedings against you in a court of law at your risk as to costs and attendant consequences.
RACHIER & AMOLLO ADVOCATES
Cc. Spanco Raps Ltd (To be enjoined as a necessary Party)
1st Floor, Luther Plaza
P.O Box 101650-00101
(Names withheld for now)