19 SEPTEMBER 2001
By Kurt Sansone
The impact that the liberalisation of the telecommunications market will have on Maltacom is something that the companys chief executive officer is already giving some serious thought to, judging by the stiff warning he gave staff last month.
A dissatisfied Maltacom client who wrote in a newspaper complaining about the poor service he had received prompted Stephen Muscat to write a no-nonsense letter to all employees, which was attached to their August pay cheque.
The one-page letter entitled, An open letter to my Maltacom work colleagues, asked employees to reflect on the aggrieved clients complaint.
Interviewed by The Malta Financial and Business Times, Mr Muscat said he felt the need to remind employees that in almost a years time Maltacom could start facing competition.
"At present this client has nowhere to go except Maltacom for his telephone service. If the poor experience he suffered had occurred at a time when Maltacom faced competition we would have lost him forever," he emphasised.
Mr Muscat did not mince his words. The letter clearly stated that Maltacom employees owe their wages to the thousands of clients serviced by the company.
The chief executive concluded the letter by asking employees to reflect on this statement: "If we lose him (the aggrieved client), who will pay our wages then?"
The telecom sector will be liberalised in January 2003. At that point any company may decide to invest in a fixed telephony network, a monopoly enjoyed by Maltacom ever since the company was set up.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Malta Financial and Business Times, Mr Muscat admitted that although customer care has improved throughout the company, he is not totally satisfied with the attitude and enthusiasm of each and every employee.
Mr Muscat also highlighted the fact that over a three-year period, Maltacom has seen a reduction of 500 employees, in a process aimed at streamlining the company.