6th February, 2012
Some aggrieved workers of the MTN call centre in Jos, have threatened to shut down the facilities over alleged “exploitation” by the management of the local station.
The workers told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos on Sunday that the communication outfit promised an upward review of their wages after confirming their appointments.
“When we were recruited two years ago, we were given a flat salary of N35,000 per month with a promise that the figure would be ‘significantly increased’ after we were confirmed.
“But to our dismay, we were only given a flat rate of N2,000. We find that simply unbelievable because our contemporaries in other states are paid between N100,000 and N120,000,” the workers claimed.
The worker, who pleaded anonymity, said they were no fewer than 2000 and insisted that they would shut down the centre if the management continued what they described as “organised exploitation.”
“We do the same work with other colleagues in Lagos, Kano and Kaduna. There is no reason why the workers in those call centres should earn more than twice our wages here.
“Again, we run similar shifts. We went through similar training, so it is confusing that we should earn less than half of their own wages.”
NAN learnt that MTN contracted a Lagos-based private firm, CNSSL Contact Center Limited, to recruit workers for the take- off of the Call Centre in 2010.
Documents made available to NAN in Jos indicated that CNSSL placed each worker on a salary of N120,000 a month instead of N35,000 the workers claimed they were receiving.
The staff, who said they suspected a rip-off, also claimed that the local management made some deductions from their salaries, monies meant for rice and oil given to them by MTN during Christmas.
“We know MTN usually gives such gifts free to its workers and even some customers while we were asked to pay for such items here is surprising,” one of the workers added.
They alleged that the centres were owned by some senior managers of MTN. The staff also accused MTN of preventing them from forming a workers’ union and described the situation as “unfair”, saying the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Plateau Government should intervene.
The Regional Technical Officer of CNSSL in Jos, Mr. Adeboh Ejiga, refused to comment on the allegations and claimed that he was not allowed to speak to the media.
However, the MTN General Manager for Corporate Affairs, Mr. Funmilayo Omogbenigun, said the company’s local outsourcing model was unique in the communication industry.
Omogbenigun, who rejected claims that the centre owners had any association with MTN or its board, said that they were selected “through a rigorous bidding process which ensured that the winner had demonstrable abilities in call centre management.
“We also insisted that their policies are aligned to MTN’s best practice with respect to the ethical treatment of employees.What we tried to do is to make sure that MTN staff provided by outsourced partners are remunerated in line with the current levels for their particular job profile and geographical area.”
On the salary of the workers, Omogbenigun, said staff were paid based on their location and as such disparities were bound to exist.
“Our commitment to the welfare of those who work in our call centres is well established and we are unaware of any threat to shut down MTN’s call centre in Jos,” the officer said.
The Plateau Chairman of NLC, Jibrin Bancir, confirmed that the council was aware of the dispute between MTN and its workers in Jos.
“We have been investigating the conflict since 2011. If not for the nationwide strike on subsidy, we would have resolved the issue by now.”
He said that the union leaders had met with all relevant officers in MTN who promised that the issue would soon be resolved.
“We have pleaded with the workers in the Jos office of MTN to be patient since we are already tackling the problems with the relevant officers,” Bancir said.
The union leader said the major issue was MTN’s refusal to allow the workers to form a union.
“MTN staff must unionise; Airtel had similar complaints at a point but now the workers there have a union.
“We have been going round all GSM service providers and want to ensure that workers there are allowed to have unions to channel their demands to management,” he said.