The Private Telecommunications and Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PTECSSAN) has revealed that the crisis at Etisalat-turned-9Mobile has spread to Huawei, one of the operator’s key partners, which recently sacked more than 100 Nigerian engineers, according to media reports.
While Huawei and 9Mobile are yet to comment on the development, it is worthy to note that Huawei has been actively involved in training telecoms engineers in Nigeria. It offers a dedicated resident engineer service for companies using its products. Since the service is flexible, fast, and cost effective, Etisalat had relied on this arrangement to fill engineering staffing gaps while training and rebuilding the in-house team.
However, with Etisalat exiting the Nigerian market, and the new management yet to negotiate with Huawei, the decision to disengage the engineers was reached although the industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said they intervened in the Etisalat crisis to avert job loss that could affect over 4,000 individuals including the sacked engineers.
Koledade Owa, chairman of PTECSSAN, said the affected engineers who had been with the company for about 8 years were informed via phone call that they had been sacked and were asked to exit the company’s 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,” 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’.”
This development led to protest by affected engineers at the Abuja office of the telecoms company in which they demanded that due process must be followed and the sacked workers be recalled.
“There was no discussion with the workers’ representative on the matter. The affected workers were not given any severance package, 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,” Owa said.