Motorola accused of not communicating

Updated: 2012-08-20 08:13

By Hu Yongqi, Wu Wencong and Jiang Xueqing in Beijing (China Daily)

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Meanwhile, word spread that salaries offered by other cellphone makers to former Motorola employees were much lower than the market average, further unnerving the laid-off workers.

The workers are worried about their future. An employee, the mother of a newborn who gave her name only as Jessica, was also informed that she had been laid off. "I am afraid that I will be less competitive in the job market as a woman in her late 30s and a mother of an infant," she said.

"Human resources officials told me to sign the papers within one day and leave the day after my lactation period ends, which is a few days after most of my colleagues are supposed to leave in September," Jessica said. "It is understandable that the top executives made this decision out of strategic consideration. But shouldn't they proceed in a different way, taking into account the interest of all the employees who have been working for them all these years?"

The Motorola China spokesman, however, said the company was laying off employees strictly according to national laws and regulations and the compensation is higher than the national standard.

Chen Hongbin, who has worked for Motorola for six years, said his compensation was just about $10,000.

Human resources experts said Motorola is not violating China's labor laws by cutting jobs. In fact, it is fairly reasonable for a company facing huge financial problems to reduce its workforce. Motorola's business has been shrinking over the past few years, and it has been laying off people in different Chinese cities, including Beijing and Tianjin. This time, the protests suggest the employees were not prepared for it.

"Although it's legal to fire people, the company still has a better solution," said Wang Kun, a human resources manager at a US IT multinational. "A better solution would require the company to care about people's feelings."

To act fairly, Wang said, a company could tell its employees that it is going through difficult times and has to lay off some of them, but they will be given a certain amount of time to look for new jobs. During this period, its human resources department could use its connections to recommend them to other companies. After all these efforts are made, the employees would have little to complain about, for they would know the company had done its best.

For many years, Motorola's human resources department was a model for other international companies. Experts used to say the company was very professional in terms of salary, welfare and labor relationship. Its Motorola University not only provides training to its own employees, but also sells training programs to other companies.

Compared with Motorola, the reputation of Google's human resources department is average, according to Wang. It is likely that after acquiring Motorola, Google pressured it to cut jobs within a given period, he said.

Since the economy remains weak, it is not easy for former Motorola workers to find jobs. Perhaps those with three to five years' experience will find employment more easily than the others. But many of them may have to accept lower salaries, Wang said.

Connie Liu is a human resources manager who has worked for four multinationals in Dalian, Liaoning province in the past decade. She also said communication and timing are important factors during layoffs.

Internal communication plays a vital role in preventing large-scale layoffs leading to a strike, because a strike will harm the interests, finances and image of the company, she said. "So a grace period is very necessary before laying off employees, because it gives them time to find new jobs and accept the fact," Liu said.

The company should have a clear strategy, even for employees who would not be affected, and open a communication channel with them, said Cui Ying, a human resources expert in a top US consulting firm. "For example, if all other people around me have left, I will also feel unsafe," she said.

"To relieve core workers of their worries and give them hope, the company should explain to them why it has to cut jobs, what its plans are for the next five years and so on," Cui said. "Besides, it should assure the employees that they are valuable and important for the company by offering them better training, career development opportunities and/or higher salaries. Otherwise, the key employees could start leaving the company for greener pastures."

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He Na, Zhang Yuchen and Mo Jingxi contributed to this report.


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