ZOL customer support agents stage go-slow protest in response to low wages

Farai Mudzingwa Avatar
Econet Call Centre

A week ago, we got an anonymous tip regarding developments at Liquid Telecom. The tip claimed that ZOL support staffers were staging a go-slow protest to voice their disillusionment with low wages and other work-related issues.

The anonymous tip read;

I have a credible source from zol support staff that the department is being underpaid by their employer and to make matters worse, they are being scammed their NSSA payments as they recently found out that their payslips reflect it being deducted but NSSA has no history of these payments, backdating to 2017.

Currently, the staff was working from the office and yet had no protective measures that were implemented to safeguard them, eg sharing equipment, not being tested regularly, no incentives whatsoever for the sacrifice they are doing during the pandemic whilst their other departments are being well protected taken care off.

Due to these outcries, and much more underneath, they are now going on a strike as they cannot even afford to purchase a single MiFi device which is currently going for $4622 and yet they are the ones who configure and ensure service, in hopes that an outcry from the clients will push employer to stop ignoring their employees and actually give them something from the ever-increasing prices. Clearly the “go slow” and poor service is not effective as money is still pouring into the company.

Anonymous tip sent to Techzim

After getting the tip, I had to track down a support staffer and after finding one they confirmed and shared more details on the condition of anonymity.

The issue of wages

The support agent I spoke to explained that not only were their wages low, they were also coming in later than usual. The agent also explained that despite having meetings regarding the issue of salaries where workers were promised better wages that simply did not materialise.

From the agent’s view, the fact that they are being paid pitiful wages and receiving these payments in an untimely fashion has meant that most of the agents simply have no incentive to do great work.

Subcontracting support staff

A bigger problem highlighted by the agent is the fact that Liquid Telecom is subcontracting the hiring of support agents to Lorimak Recruitment Consultants – the agent explained that if the support staff wants to take legal action against Liquid Telecom they can’t do so since Liquid Telecom isn’t their employer and Lorimak is.

The fact that Liquid is subcontracting to Lorimak seems to be problematic for another reason to me. Support workers at Liquid/ZOL interface interface with ZOL’s most important section of the business i.e the customer. The fact that they would subcontract such an important position is pretty worrying and after hearing that it comes as no surprise that the customer support has become so poor and consumers have voiced their opinion about this many times.

Not only is the churn of support agents extremely high but because they are not permanent staffers there is constantly an axe hanging over their heads and the constant reshuffling of these staffers means consumers never reach a point where they are getting consistently great support.

We asked Liquid Telecom for a comment regarding these issues and they said the following;

Liquid Telecom uses the services of Lorimark and other similar companies for various staffing services.

All salaries for staff contracted through such service providers are as per the provisions of their existing independent contractual agreements.

Liquid Telecom representative

In their response to our questions, Liquid also noted that they have “added
numerous self-service platforms such as Live Support and a Social Media team to attend to queries in addition to our Call Centre.”

The issue with the responses is that they don’t necessarily actually address the elephant(s) in the room but that is the official position communicated by Liquid.

The issue of NSSA payments

According to the agent I spoke to, their payslips had NSSA deductions since they started working at Liquid Telecom but when someone within the support unit reached out to a NSSA worker, they were informed that Liquid were not making the payments to NSSA.

When we requested for comment from Liquid Telecom we highlighted this issue but their response did not address this issue. It touched on the Lorimak recruitment and support channel issues only.


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