LAYOFFS

Mobicom sacks over 800, as the Telkom business dips firm stares at empty pockets

In Summary

• Out of Mobicom's 98 dealerships across the country, only two-three were still operational following the mass layoffs. 

• This piles on to the increasing number of job losses reported by different firms this year as companies cut on high operational costs. 

Having worked with the country’s largest mobile telecommunications dealer, Mobicom Group for the past 10 years, Joseph Kigotho was dumbfounded by news that his job had abruptly been terminated.

On Saturday, Mobicom sent out a memo to its more than 800 workers countrywide to notify them of the mass firing.

“Previously, they had sent us a leave letter which was to go up to September 12,” Kigotho told the Star. “Then on Saturday, we received termination letters without any warning or previous communication.”

 
 

Kigotho says employees have gone without pay for the last two months signaling financial woes at the firm.

The letters rolled out on Saturday highlighted that the firm’s business in the country had reduced by 90 per cent resulting in the mass layoff.

“Regrettably, the negotiations with Telkom-Airtel have not been concluded favourably to date and business of the company has not improved as anticipated,” the notice stated.

“We, therefore, regret to inform you that the company in not able to sustain you in employment and the company has decided to terminate your services with effect from 31st August.”

According to the Kenyan Law, termination of an employment contract can be initiated by either the employer or the employee.

If it's the employer initiating the termination of the contract, he/she has to give a valid reason for terminating employment for it to be considered fair.

A handwritten termination notice should be given to the terminated employee. In case the employee does not understand the notice the employer is responsible for ensuring that the notice is explained orally to the worker in a language he/she understands.

A company memo that was sent out last month by Mobicom sending all employees on paid leave.
A company memo that was sent out last month by Mobicom sending all employees on paid leave.
Image: COURTESY
 
 
 
 

For there to be a lawful termination, there should be an acceptable termination period according to the Kenyan law depending on whether the contract is daily wage, weekly or monthly, dependent on the interval at which salary is paid.

 
 

In the event that the employment contract provides that the notice of termination be given for a greater period than one month, then there will be an agreement in writing between employer and employee for a longer notice and the agreed notice period shall be of equal duration for both employer and the employee.

According to Kagotho, Mobicom employees were not made to sign any contracts when they were joining the firm.

“I’m a permanent employee but I did not sign any contract when I joined. They just used to pay us through payroll,” he said.

Mobicom, which had been the biggest dealer for Safaricom, jumped ship in 2010 to work with Telkom.

The firm has been hit hard by the ongoing issues surrounding the Telkom-Airtel merger.

The mass layoffs come barely a month after Telkom Kenya issued a one-month notice to its staff, informing them of its plans to make 575 workers redundant following its merger with Airtel.

This piles on to the increasing number of job losses reported by different firms this year as companies cut on high operational costs. 

“Imagine waking up to go to work on a Saturday only to find out that you have been fired, with no warning or anything. Where do you go from there,” Kagotho said.

He said out of Mobicom's 98 dealerships across the country, only two-three were still operational following the sacking adding that they were staying on the firm’s rent deposits.

Mobicom employees demonstrate outside NSSF offices at Milimani over sudden and unlawful layoffs by their employer on August 2 2019
Mobicom employees demonstrate outside NSSF offices at Milimani over sudden and unlawful layoffs by their employer on August 2 2019
Image: WILFRED NYANGARESI

Yesterday the workers demonstrated in Nairobi's CBD over the abrupt termination.

A Mobicom official  who refused to reveal his identity dismissed claims that the firm had undertaken a mass firing, stating "there was nothing like that."