Business Times

SLT halts job cuts , aims to enhance productivity

By Bandula Sirimanna

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) has abandoned plans to cut jobs and a recruitment freeze which was to have been done by shutting down unproductive divisions of the firm. The plan aimed at reducing staff to 3,500 from around 6,000 through its manpower restructuring method was introduced earlier in an effort to stem losses, a senior SLT official said.

But the SLT Board of directors chaired by Nimal Welgama, at its first meeting held recently after being appointed in May, unanimously decided against job cuts and a freeze on recruitment. No decision however was taken on the ongoing Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) which has been in force since 2006, the official added.

SLT reported a loss of Rs. 214 million during the 4th quarter of 2009, he said, adding that the company has spent Rs.480 million on VRS reducing the headcount by 310 employees last year.

Another 100 employees have been sent on VRS during the first three months of this year, making it a total of 1212 employees that have received the golden hand shake so far since 2006. He further noted that SLT’s VRS scheme will help the company to right size and re-engineer its workforce based on the actual demand. The average age of the staff, which is presently 45 years, will fall enabling SLT to keep the right blend of the age of its staff. The right blend and higher skill levels of staff are absolute necessities in an era where the company is facing stiff competition, he said.

The official pointed out that the first board meeting was delayed as the new directors spent two months in studying all aspects of SLT operations aimed at harnessing maximum productivity from the current skilled workforce and improve all divisions and subsidiaries of the telecom firm.

Acknowledging that human resources are among the most valuable assets of the Company, the Board has said that the current remuneration policy is fair and equitable for all employees, the official said.
All necessary measures will be taken to improve business practices tackling improprieties of financial management with checks and balances harnessing maximum cooperation of all employees. A board decision has been take to issue guidelines for this purpose, he said. CDMA & Copper pair cable network will be improved in all provinces including in North and East in accordance with the guidelines issued by the SLT board, he added.

The 9-member SLT board of directors comprising a highly qualified accountant, a lawyer, eminent businessmen, Telecom experts and professionals will soon introduce a sound system of internal control and risk management, other senior officials said. The Board and the management consistently advocate disciplined, liberal employment policies and work together on the application of responsible business practices, they said.

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