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SIERRATEL in Management crisis

SIERRATEL in Management crisis

National mobile network Operator, Sierra Leone Telecommunication (SIERRATEL) is faced with many issues which have resulted to serious crisis in the company’s management structure.

The development came to light on the 24th August this year, as a result of a strike action by junior staff of the company. The strike action was based on issues ranging from payment of their monthly salary, receiving of bonuses and housing allowances, improvement of other basic conditions of service and the poor network service the company renders to its customers.

“For the past three months from June to August, we the junior staff have not been paid and the administration is not doing anything serious to resolve our problem so that is why we are giving them twenty-one days ultimatum if our demand is not met we will have no option other than go on a strike action”, an undisclosed junior staff spoke to this medium in an exclusive interview.

Sierra Express Media has been following story where an emergency outdoor meeting was held at the telecom’s branch at Tower Hill in Freetown. The meeting hosted the Minister of Information and Communication, Mohammed Rahman Swarray, his Deputy, Solomon Jamiru, senior members of the National Commission for Privatization, Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Union of Postal and Telecommunication employees in the person of Edward Yarrimeh Kamara, Managing Director of Sierratel, Mr Prince Bio, the finance officer and some members of the aggrieved junior staff.

In his address, the Minister of Information and Communication said that he would have loved to visit the company on normal occasion but it’s rather unfortunate for him to be there at a time when the company was going through crisis period.

“I would have loved to visit Sierratel on normal occasion but it’s rather unfortunate for me to be here in a crisis period, but by God’s grace everything will settle and all staff will go to their normal work routine”, he said.

He added that he had come to listen to the cry of the junior staff and whatever issue arose would be taken to the President who sent him. He also empathized on the area of consultative meeting between the administration and the junior staff whenever future crisis occurred before escalating.

Speaking on behalf of the junior staff, the Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Union of Postal and Telecommunication Employees, Edward Yarrimeh Kamara testified that plenty of complaints had reached him concerning the welfare of the junior staff, and that he had tried to negotiate with the administration on how to solve the present situation amicably.

He called on the administration to try as best as possible to pay the aggrieved staff and assured the staff of receiving their unpaid salaries for the months the company owed them because it’s their right to receive salary after they had done their work.

On the side of the aggrieved staff, one of the male staff testified that he has been working at Sierratel for the past twenty years and his salary is below two million Leones. He disclosed that the main prolem the company was facing was the network management and not the issue of salary.

“They can’t be expected to provide good service with an out dated network system equipment”, he said.

Sierratel is supposed to be the gateway mobile network operator in the country but on the contrary they’re the ones that are crying for proper network management. For him, the only solution to remedy the current situation is through privatisation, which he thinks will improve company’s system of operation.

 Another long serving female staff also subscribed to her male colleague from a different angle that has to do with uniform for the female staff and proper upkeep. She said that she had been in the system for three decades and till now  they had not been putting on decent uniform as staff of the country’s national telecom.

 Articulating the issues on ground to his staff and visitors present, the Managing Director for the company, Prince Bio stated that the company’s challenge has been going on for ages. On the part of the company’s system of operation which is the CDMA, the MD said it had become obsolete and that they’re only using 4G system which is very difficult to operate with the current system.

This has cost the company to enter into a very big loss because customers are not subscribing for internet connection as before, only few customers are doing business with them at the moment. Majority rather subscribe to other network providers for better service. So they’re generating a little amount of resource as it stands. So that’s the reason why they’re facing challenge for the payment of staff salaries.

In conclusion, the representative from National Commission for Privatization (NCP) said that upon hearing the issues of Sierratel the only solution is that the nation’s network operator employs the service of a private company to run its affairs ranging from network to administration.

Hence they are holding talks with some interested private companies to take over Sierratel.

 Sierra Express Media also reached out to the Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Union of Postal and Telecommunication Employees Mr Edward Yarrimeh Kamara, who testified that on the issue of payment of junior staff salary, the company had paid for two months which is June and July respectively and the staff are yet to receive their salaries for the month of August.

By Joseph F Kanu

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