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KonkNaija Media | May 2, 2016

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National Industrial Court Summons MTN Nigeria on Unlawful Labour Practice

National Industrial Court Summons MTN Nigeria on Unlawful Labour Practice

| On 26, Nov 2013

MTN Nigeria’s CEO – Michael Ikpoki

Its been the busiest of year for Telecommunications giant MTN Nigeria with respect to lawsuits.

However, we can’t help but savor the Mobile Number Portability moments and its commercialization no thanks to the “I don Port” anthem.

MTN Nigeria had been summoned once again to the Nigerian court room but this time the National Industrial Court (Lagos Judicial Division); Suit No: NICN/LA/596/2013

There had been a case of Unlawful termination of employments at MTN Nigeria in recent past which some staff saw as being contrary to the company’s HR policy.

Four years ago on November 17, 2009 some employees from the Customer Relations Department were sent packing without notice or reason for termination of employment stated on their letters.

Most of these employees had spent minimum five years in the system and had risen through the ranks. It was also recalled that about 60% of the said staff were promoted to various levels and positions just two months before the lay-off.

Its no longer news that the ex-staff numbering about 63 had since rolled up their sleeves for a fight to finish and a battle against unfair labour practice. The said staff through an unconfirmed report in 2011 vowed to take their fight to any length as they believed they were treated un professionally and their careers rubbished within minutes after dedicating their lives to the growth of the company from inception.

April and June 2012 saw the first phase of saga between MTN Nigeria and the 63 ex staff when both parties were summoned by the Committee on Public Petition (NASS) Abuja, Nigeria after a Petition by their then legal counsel. On January 17, 2013 the Committee through its official gazatte; Article No 11 condemned the way and manner the lay off was carried out and ordered MTN to review and resolve the matter immediately.

However, the resolution by the committee was not taken without months of deliberation and public hearing by both parties. The matter was also read on the floor of the house by the committee for submission after months of thorough investigation.

As if that was not enough, the ex-staff through their legal counsel; AAA Chambers proceeded to the ECOWAS court of Justice Abuja after months of silence from the MTN Nigeria not honoring the resolution of the Committee on Public Petition (NASS, Abuja).

MTN Nigeria was further sued on the grounds of Human Right Violation at the ECOWAS Court and other defendants in the lawsuits were; The Attorney General of the Federation, The Minister for Labour, NCC, The Federal Republic Of Nigeria, MTN Nigeria CEO, Customer Relations Exec; Mr Akin Braithwaite and the Human Resources Exec; Mrs. Amina Oyagbola.

All parties in the suit were fully represented by their legal counsels at the ECOWAS Court June 17, 2013 where the argument was solely based on ECOWAS court’s jurisdiction as the lawyers to MTN Nigeria; Aluko & Oyebode claimed the case is a “Master vs Servant” affair. Meanwhile, the lawyers to the Minister for Labour also defended based on issue being a labour matter and should be taken to the National Industrial Court. The Lawyers to NCC and Attorney General of the Federation claimed they had no affairs in the matter.

The ECOWAS court later gave the October 3, 2013 as date for its ruling on the case. On the said date and with all parties present at the court in Abuja the ECOWAS Court gave a ruling of no jurisdiction because the ex-staff were yet to exhaust the local court. “In as much as the Committee on Public Petition had condemned the lay off and MTN Nigeria refused to heed to the resolution months after it means MTN Nigeria lacks the respect for the Nigeria’s Executive arm of government, the Nigerian People and Nigerian Government”, said one of the well wishers at the court premises. A staff of MTN who witnessed the proceedings and pleaded anonymity stated; “The Labour Minister never acted on the issue and also the Nigerian Government. They have no option than to sue the Nation and all parties involved. The case is still wide open and they should heed to the advice of the ECOWAS Court by proceeding to the Industrial Court. They were my colleagues and we are still friends and I know what those very close to me are going through. Its not been easy for them. Two of them trained me when I joined the company but I am now a Manager. It may be me tomorrow; how will I feel?”.

One of the staff in a brief chat stated; “All we need is Justice but MTN is trying to wriggle their way through. They should always remember that while they are trying to generate revenue from Nigerians, these same youths laid off unceremoniously and without notice and contrary to the company’s HR Policy, Procedure and Process have families suffering right now. Their career is also suffering, their self-confidence, pride and dignity. How can you lay off without notice or even writing the reason on the termination letters? Now, who wants to employ you when you can’t state the reason why you lost your job? Its pathetic and insane. Besides, the HR Dept was never aware of the lay-off too as it was hurriedly done within a department. This is a South African Company making billions of dollars from Nigeria and had since made 63 Nigerian youths hopeless, jobless due to the fact that they did not follow the due process. Yet they dish out millions of nairas to Nigeria hip hop artists all in the name of publicity and promotions. Are those artists the ones who built MTN Nigeria? Where were all those artists in 2001, 2002 all through 2009? We built MTN Nigeria and worked so hard to make the company what it is today. All I need is my salary from 2009 and tender my resignation honorably so that I further with my career. The company banned us from working with any company that has any relationship with any rival company for four years. Is that not inhuman? That’s why we will never regret suing on Human Right violation at ECOWAS because its all in the Charter”.

The affected ex-staff numbering 63 swung into action immediately outside the ECOWAS court Abuja on October 3, 2013 and had a closed door meeting with their legal counsel; AAA Chambers somewhere at Garki, Abuja. It was confirmed that all necessary documents and details for the next phase were discussed and other colleagues contacted immediately.

All efforts to speak with the lawyers to the ex-staff proved abortive as at the time of filing this report as his phone gave the error message “Not reachable” repeatedly while his land phone was ringing without a response.

We also tried speaking with any official of MTN Nigeria in the Legal Departments earlier today but denied access into the Falomo HQ building.

An unconfirmed report however has it that MTN Nigeria had since been summoned mid last week by the National Industrial Court (Lagos Judicial Division); Suit No: NICN/LA/596/2013 and hearing on the unlawful lay-off by MTN Nigeria is slated for January 13, 2014.

The 63 ex-staff will be represented by the same Lagos based law firm; AAA Chambers.

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