Ericsson Nigeria, the local subsidiary of the global telecommunications solutions provider, has disengaged about 160 permanent and outsourced workers in its Network Operating Centre, PUNCH Newspaper investigations have shown.
It was gathered that disengagement, which takes effect on Sunday, December 4, 2016, affected 55 full-time employees of the company.
According to sources in the company, some workers were laid off in July when the offshoring (the practice of a company in one country arranging for people in another country to do work for it) of jobs to India began.
Findings show that foreign workers had been recruited to replace the disengaged workers, and knowledge transfer by Nigerian engineers to the new workers was ongoing in the company’s office in India.
Sources revealed that the knowledge transfer had been going on since last year when some Indians were brought into the country to study the management of telecommunications infrastructure in the country.
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 showed that in the last two and half years, 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 that the company was offering the jobs, which involved the monitoring of MTN masts and networks in the country, to Indians at reduced costs.
The workers expressed fears that this would be a continuous trend in the telecommunications industry if it was not addressed by the government.
The employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, 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 Public Relations Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa, Ericsson, Toju Egbebi, who confirmed the development to our correspondent, said the move was part of the company’s global cost and efficiency programme to achieve a net annual cost savings of Swedish Krona 9bn, adding that the programme would continue till 2017.
According to her, the redundancy is being carried out across 180 countries where the company operates.
She explained that on July 19, the company announced actions to further save costs as well as intensify reductions in cost of sales activities and adapt its operations to a weaker mobile broadband market.
Egbebi added, “This means employees will be affected. The decision to offshore our service is in keeping with our global delivery strategy; certain work may be centralised into global delivery centres. This is to enable improved network availability and quality for consumers, and cost efficient network operations for operators.”