Fear of job loss grips Etisalat workers

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Some Etisalat employees have begun seeking  job opportunities in rival telecommunications companies after Hakeem Belo-Osagie resigned as its chairman on Friday,  SUNDAY PUNCH has gathered.

A reliable source at Etisalat told our correspondent on Saturday that the workers’ action was borne out of uncertainty in the company and fear of job loss.

“The search by some Etisalat workers for opportunities in other telecommunication companies began in March when some banks threatened to occupy the company over a loan that was long due for repayment.

“However, more than half of the company’s staff population joined the race to quit after to us  on Thursday night that the chairman (Belo-Osagie) had resigned.”

She added, “From what we gathered, the resignation of the chairman will pave way for legal and operational restructuring as well as the sacking of many people. We want to leave before the sack comes.”

The Etisalat employees are taking the step despite the Central Bank of Nigeria’s assurance to them that it will prevent any retrenchment of workers as possible fallout of the ongoing restructuring being undertaken by the company.

Efforts made to get the comments of the Vice President, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, Etisalat , Ibrahim Dikko, were unsuccessful as he did not pick his calls.

He had also yet to respond to a text message sent to his mobile as of the time of filing this report.

When contacted, the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo, appealed to all parties involved in the loan crisis to resolve the issue in the interest of consumers and the economy.

According to him, Etisalat’s financial crisis is similar to the Mobitel crisis of 10 years ago, “where a loan taken by Mobitel from the defunct Intercontinental Bank resulted in receivership and eventual collapse of the company and death of its chairman, Charles Joseph.”

“Some policies of government such as multiple taxations, Right of Way, among others, do not favour the telecoms industry and this is indeed the remote cause of the Etisalat crisis.

“Part of government’s policy on forex is responsible for the state of the telecommunication industry. The issue of Etisalat with banks, which I don’t want to speak much on, is a typical example,” he added.