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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

NITEL, MTEL embroil: Transcorp is handicapped – Union leaders

Staff of Transnational Corporation (Transcorp), have written off the corporation, saying that it has nothing more to offer.

Speaking through their various unions, the workers said that Transcorp which is the holding company of Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) and Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTEL) is apparently handicapped in meeting the expectations of its stakeholders.

Speaking to ITRealms online on the state of their respective organizations, both the factional president of the Senior Staff Association of Transport, Telecommunications and Corporations, (SSTTC) Nitel branch, Comrade Elias Kazzah, the deputy president of the union at MTel, Mr. Chidi Oparauwakwe, and the purportedly deposed President, National Association of Telecommunications Employees (NATE) at NITEL, Mr. Charles Amankwe, all agreed that Transcorp has overstayed its welcome.

Amankwe said that the management of Transcorp and NITEL are avoiding the realities on ground as is evident in their making unfulfilled promises, baseless allegations as well as misrepresenting the employees before the government.

“NITEL is not making money at present let alone sourcing enough funds to offset the arrears it is owing workers.

“We know that Nitel has deteriorated and is not making money, let alone N50m to pay salaries,” he said.

He also said that about 78 employees of NITEL have been disengaged one way or the other in the past few years excluding drivers and security employees.

According to him, out of this figure, 14 of them are still less than 60 years of age and have not served up to 35 years as stipulated by the public service regulations in the country, which were contrary to the claims by NITEL management.

Just as they have petitioned the Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. (Mrs) Dora Akunyili and her Labour counterpart as well as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to clarify the allegations.

These people, he said, have relevant Masters Degrees in their respective discipline and “have not put up to 35 years of service and you say you are sacking them when you presume that a new core investor would come by June this year.”

He said that with the purported sacking of well-trained employees, the new core investors could still further under-price NITEL, noting that with the latest development in NITEL, especially with the address of the management a fortnight ago, the so-called faction of Senior Staff Association of Transport, Telecommunications and Corporations, showed that they were bought-over and deceived.

Also speaking, the deputy president, Senior Staff Association of Transport, Telecommunications and Corporations, MTEL branch, Mr. Chidi Oparauwakwe, told Champion Infotel that the Transcorp management is not forthcoming in settling them, as all the allowances have not been paid since October last year in MTEL.

These, he said, include annual leave, furniture and others. He further alleged that they – Transcorp - are not keen in paying.

“It seems they are waiting to sell the company and pick their money and run away and leave us with the new investors,” he warned.

Oparauwakwe alleged that drivers in the company were paid their seven (7) months arrears recently with the intention of sacking them immediately, if not for the intervention of the ministry, which now gave orders that they should not lay-off anybody until NITEL is disposed.

He further alleged that Transcorp used divide and rule tactics to use a part of the union to call off the NITEL/MTEL strike and even those purportedly sacked have not been given letter to that effect.

He advised the federal government to withdraw the license of Transcorp since they are no longer meaningful, resolve the NITEL/MTEL embroil in readiness for a new core investor.

On his part, the factional president, Senior Staff Association of Transport, Telecommunications and Corporations, (SSTTC) at Nitel, Comrade Elias Kazzah, did not agree less with regard to whether Transcorp is not ‘useful’ to the system, saying that an excess of N4.5million was being owe NITEL by government agencies.

Thus, they were not taken aback by the announcement last week Monday by the Managing Director of NITEL, Mr. Kevin Caruso, that there is no money to settle staff arrears as earlier scheduled.

Transcorp, he agreed, is devastated presently, basically due to the fact that banks and other financial institutions have shunned all solicitations for loans by the company.

“... Since Transcorp seems to have nothing anymore to offer,” he lamented.
While pleading with his members to be patient, Kazzah urged the government to wake up to its responsibilities to NITEL, so as to save it from eventual collapse.


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