Investigation by National Daily has revealed that there were no discussions on the recent sack of Nigerian engineers working for Ericsson operations in Nigeria as top management staff of the multinational technology and networking Equipment Company, recently paid a courtesy visit to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in Abuja.
National Daily gathered that this is coming barely 10 months after Ericsson Nigeria, the local subsidiary of the global telecommunications solutions provider, disengaged about 160 permanent and outsourced workers in its Network Operating Centre.
The Nigerian workers were sacked effective Sunday, December 4, 2016, and replaced with Indians. The company said then that it was cost saving for them to export jobs ordinarily meant for Nigerians in Nigeria to India. About 55 Nigerian full-time employees of the company were affected.
A copy of the disengagement letter to the permanent workers signed by the Managing Director of the company, Johan Jemdahi, and obtained by our correspondent, reads, “Please be informed that effective December 4, 2016, your position has been declared redundant. We thank you for all your past services to Ericsson. Further information about the redundancy benefits will be communicated to you before the actual termination date.”
Findings by National Daily shows that between 2014 and mid of 2016, Ericsson Nigeria had managed the MTN network majorly from its pool of local workers, some of who were former MTN employees, as well as other contracted workers.
One of the affected workers said “The Company said it was cheaper for the work to be done in India than in Nigeria. The monitoring of those masts can be done from anywhere. We monitor Abuja, Enugu, Asaba, and Port Harcourt sites from the Lagos office. What they are now proposing is that instead of monitoring from Lagos, they want to monitor from India.
“They have taken the Airtel NOC office to India. They brought about 30 Indians to Nigeria last year to come and understudy the MTN network and after a month, they went back and started monitoring from there. There are no plans to pay compensation to the outsourced workers in the company.” The aggrieved sacked worker told our correspondent in December last year.
It was observed that NCC maintained sealed lips on the matter as jobs for Nigerians were exported to India.
However, 10 months later, the Ericsson team led by Head Government and Industry Relations of Ericsson Group; Shitlesi Makkhofane, and Peter Olusoji of Ericsson Nigeria, was received on behalf of the Management of NCC by Mr. Sunday Dare the Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management.
Makkhofane stated that Ericsson had studied the Nigerian telecom market and had speculated that the vast potentials of the market was yet to be fully harnessed and expressed interest in the deployment of Broadband to unserved and underserved areas in Nigeria.
The Company also said it is going to deploy the latest innovative technology to this end paying emphasis on the tripod of availability, accessibility and affordability of broadband – the leading item of NCC Management’s 8-Point Agenda.
According to Ericsson, they visited to seek clarifications on licensing requirements for a couple of businesses including type approval procedure for certain equipment because of its interest in exploring the realities of the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G networks; huge data management; as well as providing cybersecurity solutions to enable network interoperability and traceability to check the use of cloned devices that pose threat to security.
Makkhofane expressed concern on dearth of Forex and its implications for the development of telecommunications infrastructure and market.
Responding, Mr. Dare expressed NCC Management’s appreciation of the team’s visit as well as its knowledge and interest in the Nigerian telecom ecosystem. He expressed delight on the issues raised by the Ericsson team and assured the team that the NCC will continue to do what is right to attract FDI for the development and growth of the telecom industry in Nigeria.
Mr. Dare promised to convey the interests and concerns of the team to the EVC/CEO of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta for Management’s consideration and necessary action.