Telcoms giant Etisalat sacks 200 expatriates in emiratisation drive

ETISALAT, has axed 200 expatriates as part of its emiratisation drive. The move is being spearheaded by the UAE government to provide nationals with more employment opportunities.

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By  Rhys Jones Published  March 13, 2005

ETISALAT, has axed 200 expatriates as part of its emiratisation drive. The move is being spearheaded by the UAE government to provide nationals with more employment opportunities. The announcement has created uncertainty among thousands of expatriate workers at the company, which employs around 9500 people. Etisalat posted a record income in 2004 and now aims to have half of its workforce made up of UAE nationals by the end of the year. “A number of people have been laid off as part of our company’s restructuring and nationalisation scheme led by the company’s acting president and CEO, Mohammed Omran,” Ahmad Bin Ali, public relations manager, Etisalat, told Arabian Business. “Currently 43% of our employees are UAE nationals and we are aiming to raise that figure to 50% by the end of 2005 as per our duty as part of the country’s emiratisation drive,” he added. Etisalat claims that many people within its current workforce are being relocated to different offices around the country because of large-scale upheaval at the company and changes in the way the firm operates. “Many of our workers are being relocat-ed because we are going to be outsourc-ing much more work in the future so a lot of internal restructuring and redeployment is going on at the moment,” said Ali. Staff who had no idea that their contracts were not going to be renewed have been given a lengthy period of notice and a letter of no objection by the company. “Those who were affected by this decision were given as much assistance as possible and we have given these employees three months' salary and a three-month notice period, as well as a no-objection certificate to allow them to find other jobs,” explained Ali. “Most companies only give one month's notice, so we feel we have been very fair,” he added. Etisalat denied having informed staff that their contracts would not be renewed by text message. Last year, the UK’s Accident Group sacked over 2500 staff by SMS when the company went into administration. “The staff [at Etisalat] were laid-off by their own managers in a face-to-face situation and not by text message,” insisted Ali. Etisalat posted an income of US$2.8 billion in 2004 with a net profit of US$930 million, a growth of 19% over the previous year. The company’s assets increased by US$680 million, reaching US$5.5 billion during the financial year ending December 31, 2004.

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