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Crisis Rocks LM Ericsson, as Mass Sack of Nigerian Workers Looms

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It is no news that the excruciating heat of the credit crunch is taking serious toll on many businesses in the world and that has been making some companies, out of their managerial defects to layoff their staff in an indiscriminate manner with total disregard to labour legal provisions. No doubt the operations of end-to-end telecommunications infrastructure giant, LM Ericsson in Nigeria may soon be grounded if it carries out its threat to retrench its Nigerian workers.

This is because the morale at the company with headquarters at Walter Carrington Crescent, Victoria Island in Lagos, has hit an all time low now. The workers who have vowed to resist an impending mass sack with everything in them are no longer motivated to put in their best in any way.

Consequently, they are silently protesting the highhandedness of the management of the company which earlier illegally banned them from active participation in unionism.

Huhuonline.com gathered that after Ericsson sent out a circular to members of staff that due to its current reorganisation exercise as a way to cut cost, some of them would be the way out of the company, Nigerian workers in the company could not imagine the justification for the grim news. Sources reckon that the Nigerian operation of the Swedish company has continued to yield a lot of profit for the company despite the economic meltdown that has halted economic activities all over the world. Infact, we learnt that the Nigeria operation is only one of the few operations of the company that has continued to be profitable inspite of the recession.

There are indications that the decision of the company to send local workers packing is fallout of its activities In South Africa. LM Ericsson was said to have ran at a loss in 2008 in South Africa but was unable to retrench workers as a cost cutting measure as a result of strong labour laws in South Africa. The result of its loss in South Africa is now about to be visited on Nigerian workers, as the company feels that anything goes in Nigeria as Labour Laws are hardly recognised let alone been enforced. We also gathered that as a result of protest by Nigerians working in the Company, the management decided to carry out its intention through the back doors. Local workers have been asked to resign and reapply to the company. This was vehemently rejected as it amounts to the same mass purge of the local workers by another deceptive guise. Local workers have continued to mobilise as the management seems detrimental in carrying out its intimidating mass sack threat.

Meanwhile, there are indications that the company may have flouted immigration laws and Expatriate Quota regime in its employment of expatriate staff. Huhuonline.com discovered that foreign workers hired as consultants for just a three month period end up working for the company for years. At a time, it was gathered that there were close to 300, such expatriate consultants who illegally worked for the company. Sources say that the problem is, these expatriates do not contribute as much as the local workers, they are better remunerated. The company accommodates, feeds and places them on a high salary scale, they equally use state-of the-art-official cars.

Huhuonline.com checks also have it that the management of the company has reserved a couple of positions in the company for only expatriate workers despite the fact that there are\several Nigerians better qualified to handle such positions. Hence the tension at the company is now palpable. Though, the Precision Electrical and Related Equipment Senior Staff Association (PERESSA) which is affiliated to the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria is poised for a showdown with the management of LM Ericsson. In a letter dated 30th of October 2009 and signed by T.K. Olatunji, Ag Gen. Sec, the group warned of dire consequences, should the company’s management proceed to retrench local workers in the guise of cost cutting.

However, the group requested for a meeting with the management of Ericsson but threatened to mobilise the full force of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria for appropriate response, if the planned move is not suspended.

Information gathered at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for comments showed that the Commission may take actions if LM Ericsson continues to flout Nigerian laws by carrying out actions that are impossible in other countries. L.M. Ericsson is one of the leading telecommunications equipment suppliers in the world and the supplier of choice for Nigeria as most operators deploys for their services. Operators that make use of Ericsson switches and other equipments include MTN, Zain, Zoom Mobile, MTEL and a couple of others. Meanwhile, while LM Ericsson was reacting to this scandal through it Director, HR and Blair Mackenzie maintained that Ericsson like any other global corporations has had to respond to global financial crisis to remain competitive and well positioned for the future, and that Ericsson has embarked on a cost reduction and right sizing exercise and the sub-Saharan part of this adjustment is currently underway and will also affect Nigeria. As a result of this exercise there are likely to be some job losses.

It was further confirmed that the exercise would be handled with utmost sensitivity and professionalism, Ericsson has communicated openly about their structure and potential for redundancies through letters, emails, workshops and all-employee meetings since July 2009, and provided all employees with opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed restructure as well as suggestions for avoiding job losses. For those that could ultimately be affected by the redundancies, Ericsson Nigeria has consulted labour lawyers to ensure that those employees are treated and compensated fairly and in accordance with the provisions of Nigerian labour law.

It is unfortunate to see Nigerian citizens turning out to be an object of ridicule and victims of labour chastisement by foreign nationals, this is one, too many a call. Such national slap is apparently sending a signal that Nigeria is a country where rights of labour can be trampled on without recourse to justice.

However, as a good people great nation, Ministry of Labour and other stakeholders in the country need to look into these irregularities to ensure that the constitutional rights of Nigerians as it relates to labour are not flouted by any alien who would not respect local content and other rules of engagements. It is not just LM Ericsson, there are several other companies in Nigeria found culpable of a similar act. There are cases of machines and chemicals deforming people while in active service and due compensations are not given to them.

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CBN Kicks As MTN Begins Charges For USSD Transactions, Today

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has opposed plans by the telecommunication service provider, the MTN, to charge their subscribers for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data access to banking services from today.
The Governor of CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, gave the bank’s position at a news briefing by the Nigerian delegation to the just-concluded World Bank/International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings, in Washington, yesterday.
The Tide reports that MTN, in an SMS message to its subscribers, had said the decision was on the request of the banks and would take effect from October 21 (today).
“Yello, as requested by your bank, from October 21, we will start charging you directly for USSD access to banking services.
“Please, contact your bank for more info,’’ the message said.
Responding to a question seeking his reaction to the announcement, the CBN governor said the bank would not allow that to happen.
“About five, four months ago, I held a meeting with some telecom companies as well as the leading banks in Nigeria at Central Bank, Lagos.
“At that time, we came to a conclusion that the use of USSD is a sunk cost.
“What we mean by a sunk cost is that it is not an additional cost on the infrastructure of the telecom company.
“But the telecom companies disagreed with us. They said it was an additional investment on infrastructure and for that reason, they needed to impose it.
“I have told the banks that we will not allow this to happen.
“The banks are the people who give this business to the telecom companies and I leave the banks and the telecom companies to engage.
“I have told the banks that they have to move their business, move their traffic to a telecom company that is ready to provide it at the lowest possible, if not zero cost.
“And that is where we stand, and we must achieve it,’’ he said.
The Tide reports that the transactions to be affected by the charges include intra- and inter-bank money transfers, through USSD, among others.

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OML 53: NDPR, Omerelu Community Sign GMoU

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The Niger Delta Petroleum Resources (NDPR), operators of the Oil Mining Licence (OML) 53, and Omerelu Community in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, have signed the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU).
After back and forth deliberations which began in May 2019, the two parties finally signed the document which was read to the hearing of all stakeholders, last Friday, by representative of the Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Justice (Mrs.) Florence Fiberesima,
Representative of the state government, and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Chieftaincy and Local Government Affairs, Mr Felix Odungweru, who expressed happiness shortly after the ceremony, stated that the signing of the GMoU would enhance the economy of federal, state and local governments, due to the peaceful coexistence that would emanate from the official pact between NDPR and the Omerelu community.
According to him, “it portends that the economy of the state, federal and local governments would be enhanced, where there is peace, there is a working understanding.”
Odungweru noted that with the signing of the GMoU, the company would not shy away from its Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSRs), saying “in executing it’s Corporate Social responsibilities, the company goes into a GMoU with host community where all issues are straightened and stretched out”.
He said further that the pact was a “demand driven action, triggered by the community, which process started in May 2019 and concluded in October”.
On his part, the representative of the Board of Trustees, NDPR, Chief Enyindah Chukwu, expressed optimism that the GMoU would bring growth for both the community and the company operating in the community, in this case NDPR.
Chief Chukwu said, “if they play by the rules, the company would have a conducive environment to operate in as well as peace”, adding that the host community would benefit from the presence of the company operating in the area.
He explained that the GMoU was renewable every three years from the date of signing.
Also speaking, the paramount ruler of Omerelu, Eze Ben Ugoh, the Eluwa 8th of Omerelu, expressed appreciation to God and the company for the pact and expressed optimism that the community would benefit in terms of employment, development and empowerment.

 

Tonye Nria-Dappa

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Nigeria To Get $3bn World Bank Loan For Power

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The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, has said that the Federal Government’s request for a World Bank loan to finance the power sector is on the verge of being granted.
Ahmed stated this yesterday at a media briefing on the activities of the Nigerian delegation to the just-concluded annual meetings of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings in Washington.
“We put a request for financing of the power sector at a range of $1.5bn to $4bn.
“At the end of the day, it looks like we will be looking at a funding size of $3bn that will be provided in four tranches of $750m each.
“Our plan is that the team will be able to go to the World Bank for the approval of the first tranche in April 2020,’’ she said.
The minister explained that the loan would be used to plug funding gaps and tariff differentials, which she said private investors in the sector had always complained about.
She said a portion of the money would go into the transmission segment of the electricity value chain.
If the government is able to expand the facility to four billion dollars, the additional one billion would be used for the distribution segment, she said.
“It will help us to exit the subsidy that is now inherent in the power sector.
“It is supposed to be to reform the sector and to restore the distribution business side of the sector especially to put it on a stronger footing.
“This is to ensure that they are freed up enough to be able to go out and raise financing to invest in expanding the distribution networks,’’ she said.
Ahmed stated further that the financing would also cover the gap between the current tariff and the actual cost of generating electricity.
“It will also enhance our ability to pay previous obligations in the sector that have crystallised so that investors in the sector can go on with expanding investments in the sector.
“The distribution sector will be at the backend when the other reforms have been carried out.
“It will be a loan to the distribution companies because they are owned by the private sector,” the minister said.

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