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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 Opens N500 Grants Portal For Graduates, Undergraduates

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To reduce the level of suffering associated with unemployment in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has developed grants of N500,000.00 for graduates and students.
A statement from the apex bank, made available to The Tide, said qualified persons have been directed to visit cbnties.com.ng portal for the CBN N500k grants registration.
This, according to the statement, is under the Tertiary Institution Entrepreneurship Scheme (TIES), in partnership with Nigerian Polytechnics and Universities to exploit the potential of graduate entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
CBN said the aim of TIES is to increase access to finance for Nigerian polytechnic and university graduates and graduates with innovative business and technological ideas.
The apex bank added that it is also to address the trend of white-collar job seekers and focus on job creation.
The statement quoted the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, as saying that the scheme is designed to create a “paradigm shift from a ‘white-collar’ job search culture to an entrepreneurial culture to economic growth and job creation between undergraduates and graduates.
“As for the grant, CBN will allocate N500 million among the top five third best delivery organizations.
“The top five polytechnics and universities in Nigeria with the best entrepreneurial trends/ideas will be awarded first place: N150 million second place N120 million third place N80 million fourth place N80 million and fifth place. Location – N50 m illion”, it stated.
As part of the scheme, the CBN has announced that it will form a private and public sector expert organization (BoE) for two-year regional and national entrepreneurship competitions to assess the entrepreneurial and technological innovations offered by Nigerian polytechnics and universities.
BoE will also recommend high-potential projects and the variable impact on the award of the grant.
Projects funded under the scheme will be monitored by independent monitors set up jointly by CBN and MFIs.

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Economic Growth, Determining Factor For Policies In 2023  – Stockbrokers

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Chairman of Research and Technology at the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS), Mr. Akeem Oyewale, has said that economic growth and development should be the determining factor in policies ahead of 2023.
Oyewale, who said this recently at the institute’s Annual National Economic Review and Outlook 2022 webinar  in Lagos, urged policy makers to act in a spirit of justice and tolerance to avoid acts that could lead to violence in the run-up to the 2023.
Speaking on the topic: “Global Dynamics Shaping Nigeria‘s Economic Future”, Oyewale listed factors such as the process leading up to the 2023 general elections, the response to Omicron, and the effects of COVID-19, as what would also determine the growth of the nation’s economic development.
He used the fora to urge the Federal Government to intensify its engagement with Nigeria’s capital market to better smoothly finance the 2022 budget deficit without increasing borrowing.
Oyewale also directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to fully consider the effects on the capital market when making monetary and fiscal policies.
According to him, the philosophy of building an economy led by the private sector enshrined in the National Development Plan must be strictly adhered to.
On the need for new listings, Oyewale said Nigeria National Petroleum Company’s trading should continue with the public listing of its shares on the stock market.
This, he explained, would give Nigerians the opportunity to co-own one of the country’s commanding heights.
“The CBN and banks should grant trading facilities to securities trading firms in the country to maintain optimism in the capital market”, he said.
Speaking further, he urged pension funds and other institutional investors to increase their investment in the stock market to create much-needed stability and encourage new investment.
Earlier, President of the CIS Council, Mr Olatunde Amolegbe,  said the institute would continue with initiatives that would enhance its growth and development in 2022.
Amolegbe stated that CIS would undertake activities that would promote capital market literacy in all geopolitical zones of the country, saying that he would strengthen collaboration with international professional bodies such as CISI UK and others for the benefit of their members.
He continued that the institute was working to increase the number of Nigerian universities offering graduate and undergraduate courses in securities and investment/capital market studies.
“Our vision by 2023 is to see the Securities and Investments profession registered in the hearts of young Nigerian academics as their preferred career path and CIS as the model to be followed by other professional bodies,” he concluded.

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PenCom Completes Review Of Pension Reform Act 2014

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The regulatory body of the Nigerian Pension Industry, the National Pension Commission (PenCom) says it has deliberated on the review of the Pension Reform Act 2014 (PRA 2014).
This was contained in a statement to newsmen signed by Peter Aghahowa, Head, Corporate Communications of PenCom, who disclosed that the regulator organised the retreat on the review of PRA 2014 in Abuja between January 12 and 14.
According to Aghahowa, the retreat was aimed at identifying salient issues to be reviewed in the PRA 2014 as a prelude to advancing legislative action on the bill.
Aghahowa said it is expected that the National Assembly would subsequently organise a public hearing to provide an avenue for stakeholders to formally make input into the proposed amendments.
He also said that the PRA 2014 was enacted following a review of the initial PRA of 2004, which introduced legal and institutional frameworks of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and established PenCom to regulate and supervise all pension matters in Nigeria.
According to him, the Director-General of PenCom, Aisha Dahir-Umar, during the opening ceremony of the retreat, had informed the participants that the PRA 2014 codified one of the most important socio-economic reform initiatives of the Federal Government.
He continued that she said this has brought about a pension industry that has accumulated pension assets in excess of N13 trillion invested in various aspects of the Nigerian economy.
He quoted her as saying that “the review is a corollary to some implementation challenges encountered with certain sections of the Act not long after its enactment in July 2014.
“This was also an addition to persistent calls from stakeholders for the amendment of some sections of the Act, which resulted in several legislative initiatives through the sponsorship of Bills for amendment of the PRA 2014 by the National Assembly.
“Consequently, the Commission as the regulator of the pension industry, decided to coordinate and harmonize the various efforts in order to achieve a comprehensive and constructive exercise for the review of PRA 2014”, he concluded.

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