The Customer Care Representatives of telcom giant, MTN Nigeria Limited, has petitioned the Senate Committee on Ethics, privileges and public petitions, alleging the atrocities committed by the company.
The workers who are seeking the committee’s intervention in their plight at MTN listed 8 atrocities the company is committing against its contract workers many of whom have been engaged since 2008.
Some of the atrocities listed include arbitrary sack of staff without any evidence of work experience or compensation/benefits, slash of salaries by more than 50%, working under unhealthy conditions and tax evasion and extortion of CCRs.
Others include unpaid sick leaves, unpaid and compulsory meetings/hurdles/peptalk (overtime)., using restricted and dubious means of communication to CCRs and direct breach of contract.
Below is an excerpt of the petition.
PETITION ON ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY MTN NG ON ITS CONTRACT STAFF IN NIGERIA
MTN NG has since 2008 engaged the services of Nigerian graduates as contract staff through several vendors to render services to its (MTN NG) customers. MTN NG does this by making their contract staffs sign an independent service contract agreement stating theoretically that the contractors do not work for MTN NG or the vendors engaged by MTN NG, so they are not employed by either parties but shall render services to MTN NG as defined by these vendors. But practically, the contract staffs do not only render services to MTN NG but work for them directly.
We shall centralise this petition on the customer care representatives, (CCRs) addressed as independent service contractors (ISCs) or simply as contractors in the contract letters attached herewith. The vendors engaged by MTN NG as middle men are MTNN EMPLOYEES MULTIPURPOSE CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY LIMITED (MEMCOS, 2009-2012), COMMUNICATION NETWORK SUPPORT SERVICES CONTACT CENTRE LIMITED (CNSSCCL, 2012-2015) and ISON BPO INTERNATIONAL LIMITED (ISON BPO, 2015 –TILL DATE).
MEMCOS as the acronym implies are group of MTN NG employees (permanent staff) who award themselves contracts to outsource Nigerian graduates in order to extort them and make them do their jobs for them for just a little pay compared to the jumbo salaries they receive from MTN NG. They carefully design these contract letters and make Nigerian graduates sign them within 24hrs without understanding the content and in the absence of a labour officer which is contradictory to the labour act of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria. MTN NG has its online customer care centres in Kano, Kaduna and Lagos, Nigeria.
Some of the atrocities committed on CCRs by MTN NG include but are not limited to the following;
ARBITRARY SACK OF STAFF WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE OF WORK EXPERIENCE OR COMPENSATION/BENEFITS
SLASH OF SALARIES BY MORE THAN 50%.
WORKING UNDER UNHEALTHY CONDITIONS.
TAX EVASION AND EXTORTION OF CCRs.
UNPAID SICK LEAVES.
UNPAID AND COMPULSORY MEETINGS/HURDLES/PEPTALK (OVERTIME).
USING RESTRICTED AND DUBIOUS MEANS OF COMMUNICATION TO CCRs.
DIRECT BREACH OF CONTRACT.
ARBITRARY SACK OF STAFF WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE OF WORK EXPERIENCE OR COMPENSATION/BENEFITS
Almost all the CCRs that have resigned or where verbally dismissed/sacked were not given any evidence to show that they have worked as CCRs in MTN NG for the specific number of years they have spent in the company.
The contract for CCRs in Kano, Kaduna and Lagos (CCRs in standard and bronze segments) was terminated by CNSSCCL on Friday, 31st of July, 2015. MTN NG replaced CNSSCCL with a new vendor, ISON BPO, which notified the CCRs that they will be relocated from all MTN Facilities to ISON BPO facilities/centres situated at Ibadan, Abeokuta and Ilorin. Tension was high and MTN assured the CCRs through restricted mails that ISON BPO will not maltreat CCRs as they did to Airtel CCRs some years ago. To instil confidence in the CCRs, MTN made ISON BPO to issue a new three (3) months contract (August 1st to October 31st, 2015) with exact terms and conditions of the previous vendor (CNSSCCL) and promised CCRs that a new contract with ISON BPO’s terms and conditions will be issued before the expiration of the 3 months contracts before the CCRs will be relocated to the above mentioned ISON BPO centres.
We waited anxiously for the new contract letters but they were not forthcoming. Exactly on the 30th of October, 2015 by 10:21 AM, a blind copied and restricted mail was sent to affected CCRs all over MTN NG online centres stating that the contracts for CCRs in Ikoyi and VGC centres in Lagos and Kano online centres have been extended by one (1) month and that CCRs in other locations in Kaduna and Lagos will be subjected to some selection criteria and ISON BPO staff relocation policies attached in the mail shall be imposed on them.
We were directed to provide written consent expressing willingness to relocate to the new ISON BPO centres and submit it to ISON BPO HR representatives on the 28th of October, 2015, which we all did. ISON BPO HR representatives engaged CCRs in series of interviews and chats and the next day, the ISON BPO HR representatives phoned/text about 80% of the CCRs that they do not meet the criteria set by ISON BPO and their services are not required any longer and that they will not be relocated to the new centres. That was when the CCRs realised that MTN had conspired with ISON BPO to dubiously and systematically sack the CCRs that have laboured for several years without any benefit/compensation whatsoever.
ISON BPO sent messages to the remaining 20% and told them to come over and collect their contract letters. On the 2nd of November, 2015, about 50% of the 20% that fulfilled the criteria were told that ISON BPO would not want to work with them and therefore will not be relocated, thereby sacking these CCRs with NO reasons provided by ISON BPO and without prior notice as stipulated in our contract. We were told to handover our MTN ID cards and work tools and to forcibly resign our appointments in order to keep our MTN NG staff lines.
All CCRS sacked/dismissed did not receive any benefits or entitlements whatsoever. It is just like we have laboured for MTN NG all these years in vain without any benefit or evidence to show for our years of experience and service.
SLASH OF SALARIES BY MORE THAN 50%
The few CCRs that were selected were handed an ISON BPO employment letter instead of a new contract letter without a prior knowledge to the CCRs and in contradiction with clause 2 (a and b) and 7 (a, b and c) of the revised contract issued by CNSSCCL in 2012. In addition, their basic salary is exploitatively eighteen thousand five hundred naira (N18, 500), with a gross of less than 50% of their previous salaries. Throughout the relocation process to Ilorin, they were not paid a dime and were transferred to the CNSSCCL centre in Ilorin and are subjected to an inhumane work schedule which includes 9 hours day shifts and 12 hours night shifts.
WORKING UNDER UNHEALTHY CONDITIONS
Several times, we have been made to work in offices that were fumigated less than 12 hours prior to work shifts or even during work hours mostly during the night shifts. In fact there were cases of vomiting, eye/skin irritations and choking by some CCRs, and if any CCR refused to work in such unhealthy conditions, such CCR will forfeit the pay for that shift.
Night shifts were imposed on women till date which contradicts the labour act and even nursing mothers worked night shift, until recently when the super hectic nursing mothers schedule was introduced which involves a 9 hours daily shift five (5) times weekly without a night shift.
Several CCRs over the years have complained of severe headaches and migraines, impaired vision, ear problems and even different forms of cancer. The Physicians and neurologists we visit during illnesses have ascribed these health issues to the unhealthy and haphazard work shifts, constant use of substandard/faulty headsets and prolong starring at computer screens. The company has never provided any assistance whatsoever for health benefits but rather make compulsory deductions from CCRs salaries for Total Health Trust (THT) health insurance scheme.
TAX EVASION AND EXTORTION OF CCRs
5% withholding tax is being deducted from CCRs salaries every month and no evidence of remittance to the appropriate tax authorities has been given. Sometime around 2012, CCRs agitated for issuance of tax remittance receipts from the companies, CNSSCCL issued fraudulent tax receipts to less than 10% of the CCRs and after scrutinizing the receipts, we noticed the following;
Tax payment receipts for August 2012 were dated December 06, 2012.
Tax payment receipts for October 2013 were also dated December 20, 2012.
Receipts for tax deductions given to CCRs in Kano, Kaduna and Lagos were issued by the Lagos state tax office only.
UNPAID SICK LEAVES
Any CCR that fail to report to duty due to ill health/sickness is denied payment for that shift even if he/she provides a genuine medical report, or got sick while on duty will not be paid for the remaining hours he was unable to complete for that shift. These policies deployed by MTN NG and its vendor(s) directly contradict the provisions under the Labour act of the Nigerian constitution. They usually tag it “Sick Unpaid” on our monthly schedules application called TELEOPTI solely operated by MTN NG work force department. Recently it was reviewed by ISON BPO that each CCR is entitled to one (1) day paid sick leave in every six (6) months.
UNPAID AND COMPULSORY MEETINGS/HURDLES (OVERTIME)
We have been made to work overtime over the years without payment. These out of work hour’s engagements (overtime) were tagged Quality and product updates meetings, Hurdle sessions, coaching sessions, pep talks etc. These engagements are anchored by the shift leads and made compulsory at least once weekly, and it is being done either before the start of schedules or after closing hours. We are being denied the freedom to leave the office premises even after our worked shifts until after these meetings are over.
We are being made to work during national public holidays and during election periods without overtime payments, even till date.
USING RESTRICTED AND DUBIOUS MEANS OF COMMUNICATION TO CCRs
To cover their tracks, MTN NG and ISON BPO have deployed a new means of communication to the CCRs, by sending restricted e-mails. These are mails with seriously implicating contents but will not avail the recipients (CCRs) the opportunity to copy, print, export, screen dump or forward the mail contents in any way. They also engage in blind copying so as to hide the recipients of such mails. These dubious acts confirm that the recipients are the decision makers in MTN NG (Senior MTN NG employees).
DIRECT BREACH OF CONTRACT
Several changes have been made to the terms and conditions of the contract at the discretion of MTN/Vendors without prior notice to the CCRs. These changes were effected in terms of salary review, tax payment, scope of service etc. The vendors simply refer to MTN NG as its client without mentioning MTN NG in the contract letters. They paid the CCRs on hourly rate as stated in the contracts and later reviewed the salaries to a fixed amount and extended the work/shift durations, thereby short-changing the CCRs. They also randomly deduct any amount they like when absent for some shifts whether day/night schedules. They refuse to give a detailed breakdown of our salaries as required by the law.
Sir, by the virtue of the office you occupy as the Chairman, Senate committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions, we solicit the indulgence and support of your committee and that of the National assembly as a whole in order to ensure that justice and fairness is served.
We request immediate re-instatement of all illegally sacked CCRs and for such CCRs to be adequately compensated for breach of contract.
We request immediate issuance of certificate of service for the number of years we have worked as CCRs for MTN NG.
We request compensation for compelling CCRs to work on National public holidays without overtime or any form of incentive.
We seek compensation for unpaid sick leaves backed up with medical report from approved medical centres.
We request to be issued tax receipts for the monthly deductions from our salaries from the date of engagement to the date of illegal dismissal.
We want thorough and in-depth investigations into the monthly tax remittances made by MTN/MTN Vendors on behalf of the CCRs by appropriate government agencies.
Lastly, we request a full review of the scope of service, terms and conditions and work conditions of contract jobs, not only in MTN NG/telecommunications sector, but in all economic sectors in Nigeria.
Kindly find attached documents to support our request.
Victimized MTN CCRS