Digicel’s ‘voluntary departure’ project raises eyebrows

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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CHIEF CUSTOMER OFFICER : Deepak Khanna and DIGICEL'S OWNER: Denis O’Brien.

CHIEF CUSTOMER OFFICER : Deepak Khanna and DIGICEL'S OWNER: Denis O’Brien.

Job losses are imminent at Digicel Samoa.

But not as we know it. The local branch of the global telecommunication giant is moving forward with the mother company’s 2030 Global Transformation Programme. 

In doing so they have asked the employees to be a part of the “voluntary departure” programme. 

This was confirmed by Chief Customer Officer, Deepak Khanna, in response to questions from the Samoa Observer.

He said Digicel Samoa last week initiated their Enhanced Voluntary Separation Programme (E.V.S.P) for its employees. 

But he wouldn’t say if its redundancy and how many jobs are likely to be lost.

In February 2017, the company’s Irish owner, Denis O’Brien, said the company was moving to deal with its €6.2 billion debt, which credit analysts had labelled “unsustainable”.

He said that they were looking at shedding more than 1,500 jobs all over the world. 

Yesterday, Mr. Khanna told the Samoa Observer “Enhanced Voluntary Separation Programme across all its businesses” is part of Digicel’s 2030 Global Transformation programme. 

“Under this programme, employees have the opportunity to voluntarily apply to leave the business under a generous programme,” he said. 

How generous? 

He did not say.

But Mr. Khanna pointed out that telecom providers across the globe are moving to benefit from significant technology advances to “manage changing customer needs in terms of data usage and competitive threats from unregulated OTT (over the top) operators. 

“Digicel is one of the first communications and entertainment providers in the world to initiate a wide scale transformation agenda,” he said. 

“We are building Digicel for 2030 and beyond. Our transformation programme sees us taking the bull by the horns and daring to be different by challenging the status quo and by innovation-led growth. That’s what we are known for and that’s what we will continue be known for into the future. 

“Over the years, we have built a great company with a proud legacy of democratising communications and making an impactful contribution to countries and people across the globe. 

“Now we’re on a mission to build Digicel for the future with our sights set on delivering an amazing network experience and putting our customers in control.” 

According to Mr. Khanna, while specifics on both the number of staff who applied and the applications accepted under the Enhanced Voluntary Separation Programme remain confidential, Digicel can confirm that the voluntary programme was well received by staff. 

But this was not the case for other employees who are confused as to how the voluntary programme works. 

Several Digicel employees told the Samoa Observer that the offer is “somewhat confusing. They wanted to know why they had to apply to “depart the company voluntarily.” 

One employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity said people resign if they want to leave a company or they quit. What’s happening at Digicel doesn’t make sense.

“I can’t specify what it is that Digicel is trying to do with the applications of voluntary departure from employment.”

 The employee did not give further details but said that if Digicel wants to lay off employees, they should do so and not ask the employees to “apply” for voluntary departure. 

This employee also noted that Digicel should just give out their redundancy packages.

“They want you have to apply for it in order to get it, it’s confusing.”  Mr. Khanna in response said that “the organisational design our future market structure will comprise a small number of regional hubs (two for the Caribbean and Central America regions and two for the Pacific region) housing back office centralised functions and delivering shared services. 

“This means that staff in our 31 markets will be focused on sales and enhanced service delivery and resources and investment are prioritised to drive competition and innovation.

This will result in an approximate 25% reduction of the global workforce over the next 18 months. 

“The first step was the offer of an Enhanced Voluntary Separation Programme to all staff across the globe. This was a generous package and was well received by our staff.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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