By Justus Adejumoh |
Leading Second National Operator (SNO), Globacom, is not having things smooth on the labour turf as its workers appear to be locked in a contest of wills with the management in recent weeks over claims of staff neglect and poor employment conditions.
While some of the telco’s workers seem to have resigned themselves to the situation, others are not and are indeed crying out over what they say is a most debilitating practice.
The development, according to feelers, has started to take a significant toll on the company, as the level of staff commitment is said to be on the decline.
Last year, Globacom also contended with an equally shocking development with key staff of the company leaving unceremoniously, largely on account of what they termed the alleged lack of corporate governance.
One of the heads of the company in the past years, the Group Chief Operating Officer (GCOO), Mohamed Jameel, left the country without tendering his resignation letters.
Besides Jameel, the Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Sanjib Joy, reportedly left earlier.
Not done, another expert of African extraction, the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Mr. Cesar Camara, reportedly tendered his resignation letter last year with many other foreign workers following suit.
Unlike the Indians, who left without notice, Camara gave the statutory notice. It was however feared that in line with what some company watchers say has come to be an established practice, he might not have been given his severance pay.
Speaking with BH, a staff of the service provider, who pleaded not to have his name in print, said there are indeed a lot of unpalatable labour-related challenges in the company than what is known in the public.
According to him, “I have been a Manager in this very popular company for the past eight years. But nothing has been done in the area of salary increment. All we get are just promises which are never fulfilled. It is worse for those of us in Lagos where the head office is. Some staff outside Lagos are better off. In the midst of all this, the company continues to introduce severe conditions which are near impossible to meet for those who may contemplate resignation. Most of us are just stuck. And the state of unemployment in the country has worsened the situation.”
Another staff who works in one of the Customer Care Centres in Victoria Island, Lagos, said the situation that most of the staff have found themselves in is like being between the devil and the deep blue sea.
In her words: “What most of us have passed through and continue to endure here serves as a lesson. In fact, it corroborates the saying that ‘not all that glitters is gold’. When many of us were applying here, we thought it was the best place anybody can work in and be proud of. But that thought fast became a fantasy. The long and short of the whole thing is that, not only is it true that it is easier to get a job in Globacom, and quite hellish to work there; but it is also very difficult to leave the company. You can compare it a prisoner escaping from a maximum security jail.”
When BH contacted the Globacom Public Relations Manager, Andrew Okeleke on phone, there was no response. There was also no reply to the text message sent to his phone as at press time.
Much more than this picture that is presently emerging from the leading telecoms player, Globacom has long been seen as a major player in the national economy. As an indigenous operator in the telecoms industry, the network has empowered many Nigerians through direct and indirect employment opportunities.
It has also invested heavily in the country and beyond. The network has not only made its mark in Nigeria, but has also made impact in the industry at global level as its presence is being felt in Ghana and some other African countries.
But industry observers are of the view that the company’s attitude to corporate governance must be taken much more seriously going forward or it could potentially undermine the many positive achievements it has recorded over the years
Speaking with BH, the Executive Director of a civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Adetokunbo Mumuni, said it was sad that Nigerian employees, including those of Globacom will have to continue to bear with the unsavoury situation they have found themselves in on account of the absence of labour regulatory bodies.
According to him, “The exploitative tendencies that employees are often subjected to are now perennial. Some of these workers sign employment contracts without studying the terms and conditions. It is only in the middle of the game that they usually discover the reality, and by then it is too late to fight back. Lack of proper regulation by government agencies contributes to this menace. These are issues the Ministry of Labour and Productivity should be addressing. There should be very viable Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Labour and Productivity who should be seeing to all the matters relating to Nigerian workers. Unfortunately, the government is not looking in that direction”.
Explaining further, Mumuni said the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) can do little in this case because it is just a pressure group whose role is to mobilize people against anti-people policies, including specific labour issues.
“The fact is that the unemployment rate is very high. Some of these workers can only grumble within themselves so that they will not lose their jobs. But if it were to be an ideal society, no employer, no matter how high he is in the society can shortchange his or her workers. The law will deal with such issues. But the fact is that people don’t want to lose their jobs. However, government can still stem the tide by enacting and implementing laws regarding employer/employee work contract,” he added.