Financial Times

SLT facing an internal crisis

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) is dogged by a crisis over a shortage of equipment, failure to implement any business plans, and a growing internal power struggle between the Chairperson and the foreign CEO, informed sources and trade unionists said.

Trade union leaders at SLT said the conflict between SLT Chief Leisha de Silva Chandrasena and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Greg Young over purchasing equipment and services has led to an internal management crisis. Recently Mr Young, a nominee of Maxis Malaysia which has a 49 % stake in the company, was given some administrative powers earlier enjoyed by the Chairperson with the consent of the SLT Board of Directors. He is now planning to cut down staff by over 50 % to 3,500 through a voluntary retirement scheme to employees, the sources said. Several attempts made to contact the Chairperson and CEO to verify these facts failed as they were not available for comment.

Trade unionists said the CEO and representatives of Maxis Malaysia want the SLT board to purchase equipment and services from Maxis which Ms Chandrasena and most of the board members are opposed to saying this should be obtained from reputed institutions in countries like China.
Maxis representatives, who declined to be named, told the Sunday Times FT that their only concern was to improve the company and enhance its share value and that the CEO should be allowed to implement his business plan.

The sources said the lack of the management agreement has stalled decisions on recruitments, promotions and the retirement age of employees. They said that in previous three VR schemes the SLT has calculated the compensation considering the retirement age as 60 years but under the new scheme the retirement age was fixed at 55 years.

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