Pay-television network MultiChoice is planning to lay off more than 2000 workers in South Africa in a shake-up of its customer care service, the company has said.
MultiChoice, which competes with Netflix in online streaming via Showmax, said it is launching a consultation process to cut 2,194 positions at it’s South African customer call and walk-in centres.
“This has not been an easy decision to make but, in a business driven by advancing technologies, we must continue to drive efficiencies yet be agile enough to adapt to evolving customer needs,” MultiChoice Group Chief Executive Calvo Mawela said.
“We must act decisively to align to the change in customer behaviour and competition from over-the-top services,” he added, referring to video services that stream directly over the internet.
“If we don’t reposition now, we run the risk of being completely misaligned and we put everyone’s jobs at risk.” Under the Labour Relations Act, the consultation process will take 60 days.
In contrast, self-service digital channels have continued to grow, now accounting for 70% of all its customer service contacts. “The company is also in an environment where it will rely more on technology than people,” the Multichoice statement said.
Job cuts are politically sensitive in South Africa, where the unemployment rate is more than 27 percent. In his state of the nation address last Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa called the unemployment rate among the youth a “national crisis.”
MultiChoice said it will make new roles available for multi-skilled workers with the “expertise, skills and technological prowess to enhance the customer experience”.
As part of a support programme agreed with unions and other employee representatives, the firm will offer voluntary severance packages, wellness support and financial planning, it said.
It will also continue paying for the current studies of MultiChoice bursary-funded employees, and some other benefits.
The Information Communication and Technology Union (ICTU) said in a statement, however, that it had not been officially informed of the action, “which makes the process unlawful.”
“The employer has timed Friday (21 June) to make announcement, which shows some cowardice tendencies of not dealing with the consequences of their actions,” it said, adding that it will seek an urgent engagement with MultiChoice.