Pay-TV MultiChoice has announced plans to retrench a large number of employees.

The company said in a statement that it would enter into a “consultation process with 2,194 of its employees within customer care [call centre] and the walk-in centres as part of the strategic realignment of its customer service delivery model”.

“The realignment is a response to the changing behaviour of its customers, who are increasingly moving away from traditional voice calls and visits to walk-in centres and adopting new self-service and digital technologies to engage with the company,” the company said.

The company this week announced that in the previous financial year it saw a subscriber growth of 8% year on year to 500,000 subscribers and generated a revenue of R33.7-billion.

MultiChoice Group chief executive Calvo Mawela said the restructuring will make new roles available “for multi-skilled employees with the expertise, skills and technological prowess to enhance the customer experience”.

“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 to ensure that we remain relevant, competitive and sustainable. We must act decisively to align to the change in customer behaviour and competition from OTT services because if we don’t reposition now, we run the risk of being completely misaligned and we put everyone’s jobs at risk,” said Mawela.

He said the company over the past three years has been experiencing a steady decline in the number of customer telephone calls and e-mails into the call centres, as well as walk-ins to the customer service centres.

“In contrast, self-service digital channels have continued to grow, now accounting for 70% of all our customer service contacts. The company is also in an environment where it will rely more on technology than people, as it faces increased competition from technologically advanced and unregulated OTT platforms.

“The video entertainment sector is seeing a rapid evolution with a growing number of players that have entered the industry.

“We have worked hard to minimise the impact of this business realignment on our people – those directly impacted by the process and their colleagues in the rest of the business. We are committed to the intent and the spirit of the Section 189 process and as MultiChoice leadership we will continue to engage impacted employees across the country during the 60-day consultation period to ensure a reasonable conclusion,” says Mawela.

“As part of a comprehensive support programme agreed with unions and other employee representative forums, the company will be offering voluntary severance packages, wellness support and financial planning, and will continue paying for current studies for MultiChoice bursary funded employees and relevant skills development among a range of benefits for impacted employees,” he said.

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