Gbenga Adebayo

By Lukas Ajanaku, Lagos, Nigeria

There was a mild drama today in Jos, Plateau State capital, the once peaceful but now a hotbed of all manners of unrest, when the MTN Call Centre at Rayfield was virtually taken over by people who said they were members of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC). The call centre is operated by a Nigerian firm, CNSSL, for MTN in an outsourcing formula.

Reacting to the invasion, Engr Gbenga Adebayo, CEO of CNSSL, said contrary to the insinuation that the workers are paid slave wages, the firm pays them a wage that is above the government legislated wage of N18,000.

Adebayo, who is also the president of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), insisted that his firm provides skilled employment for Nigerians under terms that far exceed the national minimum wage requirements and comparable with prevailing conditions for graduate employees in many areas of the private sector.

“On Wednesday 14th March 2010, the MTN Call Centre in Rayfield, Jos was besieged by a crowd of individuals who purported to be officials of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). Their stated mission was to protest the conditions of service of the staff in the centre and the alleged resistance to unionization of staff.

“In furtherance of their objectives, the NLC came with placards and effectively barricaded the building and prevented staff from entering their offices."

“It is pertinent to note that the MTN Call Centre in Jos is operated by CNSSL, a Nigerian company under an outsourcing arrangement with MTN. The staff in the call centre are therefore not employed by MTN,” the ALTON chief explained in a press statement. 

According to him: “CNSSL provides skilled employment for Nigerians under terms that far exceed the national minimum wage requirements and comparable with prevailing conditions for graduate employees in many areas of the private sector.  Our vision is to increase our capacity to do so.

“The action by the NLC this morning disrupted the activities of the call centre and jeopardized our ability to attend to the teeming MTN customers under our care. Such incidents not only undermine our ability to fulfil our contractual obligations to MTN, they are a disincentive to investors who wish to provide employment opportunities for the youth in the Jos area which is experiencing great social upheaval.

“Indeed, CNSSL staff of the call centre, none of whom have any issue with their employment conditions, robustly resisted the barricade erected by the NLC this morning in an attempt to enter their place of work. A breakdown of law and order was narrowly averted.

“We are engaging the leadership of the NLC and the relevant security agencies in order to avoid a recurrence of the unfortunate and unwarranted action that took place today.”

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