“We don’t get paid for public holidays; we don’t get paid for Sundays. Even shift allowance after hours. They always short pay us. Now we are tired of MTN, that’s why we are here”, these were the words of an MTN worker during a labour union protest early in April this year in the telecommunications giant home country, south Africa.
Just like hundred others Clad in Red T-shirts these protesters explain why the were fed up with the company. Reasons ranging from maltreatment to being overworked and underpaid.
Late last year, MTN unceremoniously terminated the appointment of 252 of its engineering staffs , without much explanations the telecommunications firm said in a memo that was circulated in the company that it no longer required the services of those engineers, reason being that their jobs have been outsourced.
Earlier this August, reports made the rounds that MTN also ones again unceremoniously terminated the contracts it had with Nigerian firm,Communication Network Support Services Limited (CNSSL at Mayfair Garden Ibeju Lekki), re-awarding the contract to an Indian firm ISON BPO leaving out the workers of the former company to dry. The termination of the contract company insiders gather was neither due to incompetence nor financial barriers but simply “business politics”. Treated virtually like slaves under the dictates of MTN and her subsidiaries,With barely $470 salary the were made to speak with 194 customers in 9 hrs during the day and 228 in 12hrs during the night with or without a pitiable 60 minutes break.
Though MTNs “ethical badassdedness” is more pronounce in developing nations it operates in, but from its least lucrative market Guinea bassau with merely over 490,000 customers to its most lucrative market, Nigeria with well over 57.224 million subscribers it has left legacies of “shaddy deals”. Operating in countries like Syria,Afghanistan, Sudan,ivory coast, Zambia, Rwanda, Yemen, Cameroon, Liberia etcetera, its operations have been buoyed with cases of maltreatment of workers as well unethical acts.
Turkey ‘s Turkcell filed a $4.2 billion lawsuit in Washington, D.C. , in 2012 alleging the company used bribery to win a mobile licence in Iran that was first awarded to Turkcell. The court delayed the case in October 2012 pending a US Supreme Court decision on the Alien Tort Statute , the U.S. human rights law on which Turkcell’s suit is based. In May 2013, Turkcell dropped its multibillion-dollar U.S. lawsuit against MTN Group, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that hurt its case. On the 27th of November 2013, Turkcell resued in Johannesburg .
In June 2012, Reuters and the BBC reported an allegation by Chris Kilowan, a former executive for the company in Iran, that MTN Group may have been complicit in securing American telecommunications technology from Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems on behalf of Irancell, in violation of trade sanctions against Iran.
Allegations aside, dispute grossing a revenue in excess of 12 billion dollars, the company has done almost nothing to ameliorate the abysmal state of salary structure, staff treatment as well as general working conditions of its staff. So unless trade and labour Union rise up to the challenge, MTN might just get more…”seemingly undaunted”.
Undaunted in a sense that since the have always gotten away with these “bad manners” they can always keep it going. Just a year back, Nigerians were literally cut off from civilization, without prior notice or warning. Mobile Telecom Network (MTN) subscribers woke up to discover they were alone in this cold and lonely world. However that wasn’t the only offence; MTN did not deem it fit to tender any form of apology to its subscribers not until 12hours into the oblivion with a not so lengthy message of less than twenty words. It is important to state that the numeric figure of these subscribers outnumbers the population of South Africa; three times that of Ghana, and twenty percent of the population of the United States.
Over the years we have been milked, skinned,humiliated, deceived, tortured and played by the Likes of MTN but many keep defending them just to put some extra penny in their pockets. Even after enjoying extreme monopoly in its early days of entering the Nigerian market, lining its pockets with our gold and exploiting the unemployment situation in the country to enjoy cheaper labour, MTN has and perhaps may continue not just giving a damn.