Reported on: July 08, 2012 16:50 PM
Reported in: National
Dhaka, July 8 (UNB) – Employees of Grameenphone, the leading telephone operator in the country, staged demonstrations in front of the company’s headquarters in the city’s Bashundhara area, demanding reinstatement of recently retrenched employees as well as the assurance of no further job cuts.
According to witnesses, the employees under the banner of Grameenphone (GP) Employees Association started the demonstration in front of the Grameenphone headquarter at about 6:50 am and it continued until 12:30pm, creating a blockade to the entrance.
Sources in the GP headquarters told UNB that more than 1,500 out of approximately 1,900 employees in the office did not or could not enter the office due to the demonstration.
Kazi Monirul Islam Kabir, the chief communications officer of GP, told UNB over phone, “Those who have already entered the office are performing their duties in the office and those who couldn’t have been asked to work from home as all the officials have the internet connectivity to carry on their jobs.”
The employees held the demonstration out of a feeling of job insecurity and various other grievances, said sources.
Since March this year, GP management slashed about 450 job positions in the Sales and the People & Organisation departments. About 120 of the retrenched employees responded by leaving the company, said sources.
Some of the retrenched employees left GP willingly, but some did not as the authorities made provisions that the permanent employees, whose job positions have been terminated, will have to undergo interviews to remain in jobs in any department in the company, said an employee on condition of anonymity.
Employees in other sections were also told of further posts being slashed by their superiors, he added.
In addition, many of the employees were deprived of a satisfactory increment in their salary this year, he pointed out.
The association was established on Thursday last to air their grievances from a platform. The idea of founding the association was conveyed to most of the employees over emails and using the facebook network, and a meeting was called last Thursday, said another employee in condition of anonymity.
Though troubled and fearful of their jobs, most of the employees do not know what to do next as the association has not yet conveyed anything in writing to the employees, he said.
Meanwhile, the GP authorities at a press release on Sunday explained the reason for terminating some of its employees in the restructured organisation.
It said nearly 5,000 people are directly employed by the company while another 4,000 people are earning their livelihood by remaining affiliated with different activities of the company.
“To remain competitive in its business and serve its customer base with more efficiency the company is re-aligning its business. Due to this process many new functions have emerged and while other functions have been merged to create new roles,” the authorities said.
The company has initiated a transparent process to fill these new positions with most deserving applicants from the existing workforce as there is more than one applicant for some posts while giving equal chance to all.
“Unfortunately the company has to let go some of the employees as there was not enough posts to accommodate everyone in the restructured organization,” the press release reads.
The authorities said as a compliant organisation Grameenphone followed the local law, company’s employment contract and company’s Codes of Conduct to discontinue the employment of these employees. “The company has not only complying with the legal requirement but went far beyond in providing separation benefit in recognition of the valuable contributions of those departing employees.”
Referring to the demonstration by a group staff in front of its head office, the authorities asked its employees to go home by using the company transport and if possible work from there to avoid any untoward situation.
“As almost all employees have company provided laptops and internet connectivity, it is quite possible for them to work from home if required. All customer oriented services of Grameenphone remained operational,” the release said, adding that the management sat with the demonstrating employees and having a dialogue with them.
Meanwhile, the parliamentary standing committee on labour and employment ministry has decided to summon the chief executive officer (CEO) of Grameenphone to explain the reason for terminating a large number of its employees violating the Labour Laws.
“It seems the GP employees are being terminated in a wholesale manner in violation of the Labour Laws. For this reason, we have decide to ask the GP CEO to appear before the committee at our next meeting to justify the action of the company,” Israfil Alam, chairman of the parliamentary watchdog, told reporters after a meeting of the committee held at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban.
A letter will be sent to the GP CEO asking him to attend the committee’s next meeting, he said adding that, they will hold the next meeting soon.