The crisis rocking the telecommunication network provider, Etisalat Nigeria (new name effective today: 9mobile), took another dimension on Tuesday as one of its key strategic partners, HUAWEI Technology, relieved over 100 Nigerian engineers of their jobs.
The workers, who said they had worked with the company for over eight years, protested over the sudden sack, saying that it was done without due process. As early as 6:00 a.m. yesterday, the affected workers gathered outside the premises of Etisalat in Wuse 2, Abuja, carrying placards with different inscriptions, among them: “We want all sacked workers recalled”, “We are not slaves”, and “Due process must be follow in sacking workers”.
Chairman of Private Telecommunications and Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PTECSSAN), Comrade Koledade Owa, who addressed the workers, told this reporter: “Precisely on Thursday and Friday, while our members were doing their work, they got a phone call that they have been sacked and were asked to vacate the premises.
“We see it as an anti-labour practice because when they were employed, it was not done on phone and so we believe that if there is any reason to lay off anyone, it shouldn’t be through the phone.
Continuing, Comrade Owa said: “After much pressure, they now sent them an email, that they should vacate the premises within 24 hours. The content of the mail stated, ‘As a follow-up to earlier discussion, your appointment is terminated and you are to vacate the premises within 24 hours’.”
The PTECSSAN Chairman, however, disclosed that there was no discussion with the workers’ representative on the matter. He said that the affected workers were not given any severance package, adding that some of them were not paid last month.
“So what we want is that all those sacked must be recalled, and if there is need to lay off anyone, it must be done with dignity and respect,” Comrade Owa said.
Also speaking, one of the affected staff, who pleaded anonymity, said: “We have been trampled upon severally. I won’t lie to you, none of us is happy because we have been working in this company for years, with no promotion and no other benefits.”
•Adapted from a Blueprint report.