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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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FRSC Promotes 57 Officers In Rivers

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A total of 57 Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) officers  and marshals serving in Rivers State have been decorated  with new ranks.
Acting Zonal Commanding Officer in charge of Zone Six comprising Rivers and Cross River States, Mr Kingsley N Agomoh, disclosed this during the decoration of the newly promoted officers at a brief ceremony  held  at the FRSC zonal conference hall in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Agomoh called on the newly promoted officers and marshals to improve on their productivity, saying promotion comes from God.
According to him, the 2019 promotion was conducted  in  a transparent manner.
“I believe your hard work earns you your promotion today. The product of hard work is more work,” Agomoh said.
He urged the officers and marshals to show more commitment on their duties.
“I thank the corps marshals and FRSC board management for their commitment,” he said.
Also speaking, the Sector Commander, Rivers State, David U Mendie, while congratulating the newly decorated officers and marshals, urged them to see their new positions as a call to greater service  th at  should lead them to higher responsibilities.
“ Let this propel you to put more action  on your job and for those  who  were not promoted, work hard and  you will make it next time because  God’s time is the best,” he stated.

 

Kiadum Edookor

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FG To Set Up Agro-Allied Industry In 36 States

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President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment to establish agro-allied industry in each state of the federation.
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum confirmed the development during a meeting with a delegation from the Amana Farmers and Grains Suppliers Association of Nigeria.
The association was led to the minister’s office by its Chairman, Haruna Pambeguwa.
Katagum said the plan to establish agro-allied industry in each senatorial district in the country is part of government’s effort to achieve food security and stimulate economic activities.
The minister said the Federal Government would give necessary support towards the development of the cotton, textile, and garment sectors of the economy.
The textile industries in the last few years have been facing various challenges which had resulted in the closure of over 150 textile firms in Nigeria with a loss of over two million jobs.
Farmers and processors in the sector have had to deal with low quality seeds, rising operating cost and weak sales due to high energy cost of running factories, smuggling of textile goods, and poor access to finance.
According to the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, smuggling of textile goods alone is estimated to have cost the nation an import bill of over $4 billion.
The trade minister said, “Government is very much interested in growing the economy, looking at other areas like cotton, textile, garment, grains, tomatoes, we need to add value.
“Mr. President has directed that in every senatorial district, we should establish an Agro-allied industry and we know some industries exist but you can assist us in identifying the agro-allied industries that will be suited for you.”
On the border closure, she said the government has learnt a lot of lessons from the exercise one of which is that Nigeria can produce what it needs.
While describing the border closure as a blessing for the country, she said, “It shows that we can produce what we need to eat and even export.”
She added, “My appeal is that there are critical lessons we have learnt. Let us not go back, let us continue with farming even if we found oil in any part of the country.”

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Minimum Wage: We’ll Not Condone Retrenchment – NLC

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Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ondo State chapter, Comrade Sunday Adeleye-Oluwole, has declared that the union would not agree to retrenchment of workers in the ongoing negotiations with the state government on the new minimum wage.
Speaking in Akure yesterday, Comrade Adeleye-Oluwole revealed that the negotiation on the N30, 000 new minimum wage, which was suspended during the Yuletide, has resumed.
He disclosed that the negotiation is 85 percent concluded, explaining that the negotiation dragged on for long because the organised labour led by JNC, NLC and TUC wanted to ensure a better package for the workers and pensioners.
He said the process may be concluded before the end of this week.
According to him, the organised labour is giving the new salary tables on minimum wage presented by the state government critical study with a view to ensuring the agreed new salaries would not lead to irregular payment, mass retrenchment as well as ensuring it is sustainable.
He stated that the new minimum wage would capture special allowances for the media, judiciary, parliamentary and health workers.
Adeleye-Oluwole appealed to the state workforce to remain patient as the negotiation has got to final stage.
He said: “The negotiation is not led by Nigeria Labour Congress but by the Joint Negotiating Council as prescribed by the National Headquarters of NLC and TUC. We are just supporting the JNC and that was what we had been doing and I want to say that in the last two months, the JNC in its wisdom set up negotiation committee, and ever since then, we have met more than seven times.
“So, JNC has a final say concerning this minimum wage. But as at now, based on what happened today (Tuesday), we have got to 85 percent completion. Also, pensioners are being carried along because we believe that all of us will become pensioners.
“From what I have been doing, I can say that before this week runs out, we should be able to come out with specific table and we are working on five different tables for Judiciary, Parliament, Media workers, call services, Health sector and the services have their own peculiar allowances. So, we are working now on five structures, including pensioners making it six.
“In the spirit of negotiation, what we really need is to know the data, how much is coming from Ondo State, which we have got and we also look at the present salary wage bill.
“As labour leaders, we are not elected to sign what will cause our workers to be retrenched. Last month, office of the Accountant General was so frustrated that he called us and showed to us (all labour leaders) how they got money to pay November (2019) salary and even at the minimum wage (negotiation) table, it was stated to everyone of us.
“My advice to JNC as NLC leader is, don’t sign what can lead to retrenchment of our members because I don’t have the final position, it’s JNC that has the final position on the new minimum wage.”
Speaking on the payment of arrears to workers by the state government, Comrade Adeleye-Oluwole explained that, “but not until we are settled in the (negotiation) table then we can’t discuss the arrears (of the minimum wage), we have not got to that level.
“In any minimum wage, it would be stated clearly that this minimum wage will not lead to retrenchment. All those who are involved in the negotiation would not be victimised or intimidated and the government will continue prompt payment of the salary and sustaining it.”

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