MTN Nigeria has sacked about 280 of its employees, in a major job cut that affected about 15% of the company’s entire Nigerian workforce, online newspaper Premium Times reported Monday, quoting unnamed sources.
But a senior official of the South African telecom firm confirmed the sack to our reporter yesterday.
The report said those affected by the move include some 200 permanent employees and about 80 contract staff across various cadres, ranging from new graduates to senior managers.
Many of those sacked spent up to 15 years with the company having joined MTN as it opened its business in Nigeria in 2001.
Our sources said affected workers were given a dismal severance of 75% of their gross monthly income multiplied by the number of years with the company, the newspaper said.
“Given that the company is about 16 years old in Nigeria, the severance package brought pain and discontent among the affected staff,” one source told the online newspaper.
“With the payoff structure, senior managers with 15 years of service were left with about N15 million. Most of the staff got less than N5 million.”
MTN Nigeria recorded nearly $1 billion in profit in 2016, but it was fined N1.4 trillion and later reduced to N330bn by the Nigerian government for failing to disconnect 5.2 million unregistered subscribers.
The fine was scheduled to be paid in six instalments over three years, according to the settlement plan between MTN and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). The company had so far paid N110bn.
The top MTN official, who pleaded anonymity because the officials in South Africa have yet to direct the officials in Nigeria to speak on the issue, said “It is true. All that you read online is true.”
The official the company was experiencing some hard times and has therefore resolved to downsize workers all its operations, not only in Nigeria.
He however said the affected workers were well compensated with adequate benefits.
A source familiar with the downsizing told Premium Times 200 of those affected had earlier agreed to leave the company voluntarily.
The source said the company introduced the voluntary severance scheme, VSS, to provide a window for one week in April, for persons who have served in MTN for five years and above to take up.
Those who decided to leave under the VSS were to be paid the equivalent of their three weeks gross salary for every year they worked with MTN.
“What it means is that if one worked in MTN for five years, one would be paid three weeks of their gross salaries times five,” the source told the online newspaper.
Meanwhile, some of the sacked MTN staff said they would challenge their disengagement at the National Industrial Court.