Per Second News
Global System of Mobile Telecommunication (GSM), a technology that was introduced into Nigeria at the turn of the 21st century, with its attendant commercial viability and propensity for job creation has been widely acknowledged as probably one of the best thing to happen to Nigeria in the last 15 years.
However, all the glitz and glamour that characterize the lifestyle of the privileged staff within the swishy confines of companies in Nigeria’s telecommunication industry may be a façade after all, as latest revelation by over a dozen sacked married women suggests that Globacom Nigeria Limited, one of the major operators in the GSM business has been sacking women on the basis of their marital status.
On Thursday, March 15, 2018, thirteen (13) married women, all of whom were ex-staff of Globacom Communications, lodged a complaint against the communications giant for wrongful disengagement, gender discrimination and gross violation of their social and economic rights.
The telecommunications company disengaged the services of these women on March 9, 2018 for no apparent reason. No reason was cited in the disengagement letters made available to SPACES FOR CHANGE, an NGO representing the women.
It is difficult to determine whether this rise reflects a worrying deterioration in working conditions at the communications outfit or a greater determination by women to report acts of discrimination. There may also be a growing resolve to combat more insidious forms of discrimination: the accounts below describe how women are excluded from networking opportunities, and are sidelined after having children at Globacom.
According to the women, prior to the sack, GLO conducted a staff profiling exercise few months earlier and by December, 2017, internal personnel interviews where female employees were specifically asked questions about their marital status, how many children they have and other personal information.
Speaking to Spaces for Change, the women alleged that the interviews were conducted between December 29, 2017 and January 4, 2018, according to Executive Director, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri.
After the one to two minutes interview, a professional photographer was asked to take full length and passport size photograph of all the employees interviewed. In the wake of this exercise, there were speculations among staff that the interviews were designed to facilitate promotion and other improvements in staff welfare. To their chagrin, an influx of new personnel was noticed shortly thereafter. It was when the new employees were assigned to take over their appointments that the prospects of an imminent job loss dawned on them.
In an internal memo dated March 9, 2018, Globacom issued the disengagement letters, and directed the affected staff to report to another outsourcing company, GML (Global Manpower Ltd) whom most staff claimed they have not had any previous correspondence with.
The affected women said that they have never been queried or disciplined for either low or nonperformance. None of them had ever been involved in any form unprofessional or dishonorable conduct. Most of them had been in the employ of GLO for up to 10 years and more. Periodic staff appraisals conducted by the company during the period attest to their glowing records of professionalism and strong work ethics. The only thread linking together all the sacked personnel is their shared marital status: they were all married women.
One month salary was paid lieu of notice. Tax deductions on the last salary were spectacularly different from previous deductions. All were outrageously taxed of their monthly salary. Pension deducted was last paid in September for most of them.
Investigation revealed that the highest number of married women sacked was from Lagos. The people previously occupying the position of Cluster Managers and Shop Managers comprised single, married ladies and men. Currently, they have all been replaced with single ladies and men.
Ex-employees of Globacom identified 120 female married personnel of Gloword, (Glo Friendship Centers) PAN Nigeria. Out of the 120 women, 98 were disengaged leaving only 22. Out of 52 single ladies who are staff of Gloworld, only 4 were affected by the mass sack.
Investigations by Per Second News in 2014 revealed that Globacom through illegal tactics force employees to sign bonds in order to keep their jobs. Nearly 60 percent of its staffers, it was gathered, have fallen victim to “forced labour”, trapped in jobs which they were coerced or deceived to take and from which they cannot leave easily.
The Employment Bond, it was learnt, is basically an agreement which the company and the employee enter into, which amongst other terms states that “In consideration of the training given to the Employee and the money spent by the company in imparting such training, the Employee will remain in the services of the company for a particular period. In case the Employee breaches the provisions of the Agreement, the Employee will be liable to pay a certain sum of money, be it the expense incurred by the company in training of the staff”.
A preponderant of staff affected by the said bond claimed they did not know that they had signed a bond contract until they were about to quit Globacom.
“We were never informed that we will pay a penalty fee for leaving Glo,” said a staff who did not want his name in print. The act of inducing recruitment by fraud is against the labor laws of Nigeria. According to the Labour Act, “No person shall by fraud, falsehood, intimidation, coercion or misrepresentation induce any worker to enter into a contract under this Part.”
Patrick Agbator (real names withheld), a graduate of Mass Communication from the Lagos State University, had for five years been in search of a blue collar job until late 2011 when fortune smiled on him courtesy of a contractor who has a business relationship with Globacom Nigeria Limited. Through the contractor, Agbator was employed by Globacom as a Customer Service Agent.
Two years into the job, Agbator whose monthly salary was hardly enough to enable him meet his domestic responsibilities and assistance to retinue of dependents, decided to seek a better paying job elsewhere. He actually got what he wanted, but what he thought was going to be a smooth transition from one job to another turned out to be a nightmare as the management of Globacom insisted he would have to remain with the company for one more year or buy out the extra year to facilitate his exit.
Agbator was not alone. Mosunmola Arobieke (real names withheld), another employee who had served Globacom for seven years, but got an offer of employment from a bank, wrote to the company informing them of her desire to resign her appointment.
She was shocked to hear that she had signed a bond and cannot leave. According to her, “I protested and I was informed that I will need to pay the sum of N2 million for me to leave. My monthly salary is less than N80, 000 a month, where do they want me to get N2 million? This is inhuman and modern slavery, she said at the time.
Agbator and Arobieke’s accounts are just two of the numerous similar incidents of alleged manipulation and exploitation of unsuspecting members of staff by Globacom, a company owned by Dr. Mike Adenuga, one of Nigeria’s richest men who also have big stakes in banking, oil and gas.