Another Chilling Letter From a Safaricom Call Centre Staff

Posted In Business - By robertalai On Monday, April 22nd, 2013 With 25 Comments

safaricom police

After blogging about the Safaricom call-centre staff retired and sacked because they developed ENT problems, I got more from some current employees at Safaricom. I received over 13 emails with all manner of complaints. The one which stood out is this one.

Hi Robert,

I joined Safaricom in 2009 as customer care representative. We had been promised confirmation once we are through with 3 months probation which was later pushed to six and before we knew it we were given the bad news. We will be signing contracts every six months which is performance based. We later found out the idea of not to confirm us was a cost cutting strategy as you will find out later.

Employment in Kenya is hard to come by so we decided to just accept the conditions. I want us to compare a permanent agent and contract one. Permanent agents earns a basic salary of between Ksh 55,000 and Ksh 60,000. We, the contract ones get 40,200. We are given Ksh 1,000 airtime while permanent get Ksh 3,000 every month. The medical cover we have as contract is Ksh 60,000 and in patient is Ksh 150,0000 per year which does not cover any member of our family while the permanent staff is Ksh 250,000 for out-patient and in-patient is 1.5 million. This basically means if I get sick it’s ok I go to Nairobi hospital but if its my kid I take him to a city council hospital. No dental or optical for contract staff. And we are all agents doing the same job.

As contract staff, you cannot move to any other department regardless of how qualified you are. That basically means you stagnate there answering calls for ever. In the call center, people do swap shifts but as a contract staff you cannot swap with a permanent staff. Why? Mind you we are doing the same job. They refused to have contacts staff join the pension scheme. So they waste you for 2 or 3 years, then they dismiss you with nothing. Remember your contact is 6 months making it very hard to even access loans. Basically contract staff are treated like shit because getting rid of them is like a finger snap. Basically contract staff live like paupers working for blue chip company.

Now, that aside they have now started another very bad and immoral practice. They know it’s illegal to employee someone on renewable contract basis for more than one year. So they are now targeting older contract staff. One minor mistake and your contact is revoked. You can imagine being on contacts since 2009 and in 2013 you are dismissed just like that. You have basically wasted your 4-years.

What do you think Alai. Is this proper?

I must say that Safaricom is really doing lots of things wrong. The sad fact is that the CEO and top directors would rather appear in music videos and pop champagne. Nobody want to face the reality and help these young people.

About - Robert is an African Tech Blogger, Critic, Net Evangelist, Speaker, Mentor for Young Boys and Girls, Editor @TechMtaa and likes to Provide Sanitary Towels To Poor Women through the DishAPad Initiative

  • This is very bad – Bob – hope you read what your employees cant tell you on your face

  • Shit happens!
    U all need to join forces and get a voice!

  • Name and shame, most top blue chip companies are also in this scam. Take heart only God will compensate you the 4 or more wasted years.

  • A Union for call center workers may need to be formed to ensure all workers are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

  • sober me

    I know I will receive negative comments from this, but this is my take:
    First, both Permanent and contract staff are clearly informed of the terms of employment before taking up the job.May the writer please post the terms presented to them for signing here if am lying. Btw, Those Are Some Of The Questions I Expect You Robert To At least Make An Effort Of Checking before Posting Stuff.but I Understand, You May Loose Relevance.

    Two, The Starting salary of a Permanent agent was 45,000 before Tax. A contract staff is paid 230 x 8 hrs per Day x about 24 days Per Month As They Are Entitled to 2 off days per week.Do your Maths.

    Third, please check up the meaning of Permanent $ Pensionable In our Labour Laws.
    Four, please do a research on Call Centre Staff Internationally and Compare yourself To other Call Centre Staff In Other companies here in Kenya.

    • Posting things which portray your employer negatively makes people loose relevance? I have heard such nonsense for long.

      • sober me

        Posting things that you haven’t done background checks and confirmed if true.

    • This argument is pedestrian and common among people who have o defense. They threaten you with being condemned to irrelevance just because you have written the truth. Such a petty argument. You can upload documents here. We can also present cooked up calculations.

      Kenya should not mistreat call centre staff just because all countries (or most) mistreat their staff. It is like that argument that mobile money will not succeed in Kenya because it has failed everywhere.

      And this look and sound like Nzioka Waita.

      • sober me

        Well, be at peace, its not Nzioka, its me. I still insist, without posting evidence of the claims, this whole story remains just that, a story…Oh, and just asking, has the agrieved followed up compensation as per the hearing?

    • GirlinSom

      It is pointless to explain such things to some people. Safaricom is within the law to put people on short term contracts and others on permanent pensionable employment. There is nothing illegal about that. Alai stop being used by disgruntled employees who signed a contract then realised there is a better contract and are now moaning and whining.

      They made their bed, let them lie in it. There are a lot of people looking for jobs. If they are not happy with Safaricom they should LEAVE!!!!!!

  • dirty linen finally in public

  • HolomisaBantu

    The current job scene has changed, you no longer depend on an employer to guide your career.If you are not satisfied then save, go back to school ,gain extra skills and look for opportunities elsewhere. To the employer (despite the modern nonsense of employees being ‘assets’) , you are just another business expense that should be controlled .

  • Then it means these call center agents at Safaricom are being compensated like managers. Go to BPOs like Kencall and another one next to Parkside Towers on Mombasa Rd and you’ll be shocked! The agents are paid meagre wages typically below 15k while working 12hrs a day, and Kencall is notorious for not paying employees for months on end.

    • tommy

      Oh shit ! almost got into one Horizon. but was lucky had another interview same day.

  • mimi

    I doubt Alai can help improve your terms of employment.

    • And the person speaking is Mercy Wang’ondu who is a Customer Care rep at Safaricom. Pulling colleagues down thinking that it will give you a salary raise

      • sober me

        Alai, I guess you need to get someone who will give you a true picture of customercare at Safaricom. But of course you choose to rely on people who have left the company for reasons you know nothing about.Oh, and increments in Customer care do not depend on how down you pull other collegues. Once again, find someone who will share with you the Reward Policy.

  • kidilwanda

    each company has got its own rules. if you do not like how safaricom is treating you, there is airtel, yu, orange or you can even start an mpesa agency. what do you want safaricom to do yet you signed the contract and they havent broken any. all casual workers are not always guaranteed permanent employment.

  • Jacob

    Kenya has become of age, guys lets face the truth.

  • qadaffi

    Robert,

    Good expose. This is quite sad. I still think you could enrich the article by digging deeper into the actual contractual terms and I am sure you can easily get the info. The tip-offs from staff are good but you can also steer the national discussion and fight with Safaricom become one that is rooted in hard stuff until people ask why we have this happening in this day and age.

    That aside, I have knowledge of both Safaricom and Airtel and I can tell you that illegal/immoral as Safaricom’s actions are, it is only a tip of iceberg compared to the shit that Airtel is taking its staff through (although Airtel conveniently says they have outsourced to Spanco, TechMahindra etc). It is deplorable.

    I am happy to see that somebody is finally giving this attention.

    Keep digging!

  • mashinani

    Pedestrian argument at best – disregard of the welfare and rights of others as well

  • just because alai a luo brings light to this grave issue its labelled a lie, if njuguna posted the same it would be labelled truth. kenyans are suffering under suffericom and the least we can do is hold them accountable

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  • Polonium laced headphones!

  • World News 365

    Lets acknowledge 2 things:

    1. Lack of Employment Opportunities.

    2. Contract terms and conditions.

    We must all acknowledge that there are very few jobs out there and so people will try to go for whatever opportunity so as to get a means of livelihood.

    Before you take up employment you have to sign acceptance of terms of employment. If not you do not get the job. Am sure all these people signed the terms and so should not complain about the terms as it is clearly given in black and white.

    The above having been said, does not mean they have no rights.

    What these staff have gone thru is injury in the work place. Because of the substandard equipment, they have gotten an impairement.

    They should pursue the compensation line against Safaricom. For any company to operate they must be having a workmans compensation plan, if safaricom did not put this in place,l then SUE them to the last coin.

    Companies have been sued for providing bad seats, not providing anti glare, and so on. This is what you should pursue. They have impaired you and hence should compensate you handsomely.

    Get a Good rough lawyer to handle them. Ask for a handsome amount, you only have to prove it medically that you are impaired and cannot work effectively as a result. 15 to 20 million per head is not a piped dream.

    Dont waste your time asking safaricom to employ you permanently, its their right to chose to work with you or not, just like i cannot force you to employ me in your home without your liking.

    Sue for compensation, ask for whatever amount, but be ready to prove it medically.

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