Telecommunications Company, MTN, on Friday fired hundreds of staff in its Nigeria offices without severance pay, several affected staff have told PREMIUM TIMES.

The staff said they were not properly about their dismissal and that the company failed to respect their contractual agreements.

They said MTN had informed them of a plan to outsource staff, but since it was not the first time that would happen, they took the information casually.

“In 2012 they outsourced us to a company called DNSSL. Now what we have heard is that MTN is taking us away from DNSSL to an Indian company, ICON,” said one staff, who has worked with the company for over five years.

He said they were told by MTN about two weeks ago that the contracts would terminate at the end of September. With no further information, the staff thought they would return to MTN.

“But on reaching here today, they placed security all over the place, numbering up to 50 private security operatives,” he said.

He said while a company could hire and fire, employees also should be fairly remunerated.

“For five years since I have been with them, salaries have not been reviewed. We work on public holidays, yet there were no plans for any overtime payments. We operate an invoice system, which allows payments within intervals of a month, starting from the 15th of every month.

“As we speak nobody is talking about our salaries for the last 15 days we have worked. A lot of us have outstanding leave days that should be monetized but no one is talking about that. Even when they pay the salaries; a lot of us are usually sub-paid, meaning that our salaries are deducted without explanations,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.

Another affected worker told PREMIUM TIMES that he had just finished a night shift and stepped out to get some money from an Authomated Teller Machines, ATM, when he observed the strange development.

“They searched me like a common criminal. Both when I was going out and when I was returning inside. They did not even allow me inside,” he said. “I kept asking what was happening because I did not understand.”

Another affected staff said he had worked with the MTN group of companies for eight years, but was suddenly locked out of office on Friday, without explanations from his employers.

“They refused even to let us inside the compound. They only asked that a security operative address us. They said they have outsourced us, but a careful study of the process shows that MTN is still the owners of the company. For example, after outsourcing us to DNSSL, in 2012, MTN still maintained full control of the company and we are sure they are the ones outsourcing us again.

“They are moving their call centre away from Lagos which means we have practically been sacked. And there are at least 4000 of us, if not more, because we are spread across Nigeria,” he said.

The staff requested their identities be protected as the matter was still fluid.

One staff, who was sacked much earlier, said he was fortunate to be employed by the new company.

“Yes it is true. There are many of us. Although I am now working with ICON but when I was laid off by MTN, no entitlement followed,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.

When contacted, the spokesperson for MTN, Funso Aina, promised to send a statement on the incident. He did not revert for more than 24 hours, and did not respond to further calls and text messages.

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