James Emejo in Abuja
The Ministry of Communications on TuesdayÂ hinted that two telecommunications firms are currently considering a recall of retrenched staff.
Speaking during a public hearing by the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating operational activities of telecoms sector which is chaired by Hon. Ahmed Abu (APC, Niger), the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Sonny Echono, said efforts were underway to resolve the issue.
The permanent secretary who chairs the inter-ministerial investigative committee probing the sack in the telecoms sector, said: â€œFrom the information available to us, one or two of the compaies are trying to re-engage the sacked staff.â€
He said although only three companies were named in the petitions received by the panel, they invited all the eight companies operating in the industry, namely: MTN, Glo, Etisalat, Airtel, Huawei, Ericsson, Natcom and ZTE.
He said: â€œWe asked them to give us their employment lists for the past five years. We also looked at their business structure. We looked at the operating environment.
â€œWe found that the companies muffle the disengaged staff by paying them certain benefits. We also found that they donâ€™t allow the staff to have unions. We are on top of the situation now. Theyâ€™re alarmed because they know weâ€™re checking,â€ he said.
The committee chairman had asked the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, to explain why it took the ministry long to act on the issue of mass sack in the industry as well as provide details of the ministryâ€™s policy on employment.
Responding, Shittu said it was the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) that was supposed to take immediate action, and that the commission was not under the ministryâ€™s control.
He said however that the ministry constituted an inter-ministerial investigative panel on the matter headed by the perm sec, based on myriad of petitions it received and called on the permanent secretary to explain the panelâ€™s discoveries so far.
But the NCC had at the initial hearing contended that through worried by the job loses in the sector, it had no powers under the Act setting it up to engage in labour related issues in the industry.