By Technology Times Reporters
Lagos. October 2, 2011. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has come under mounting online pressure to wade into alleged mass sack of 3000 workers of Airtel Nigeria, the number three mobile phone operator by subscriber number, owned by Bharti Airtel of India.
A groundswell of online campaign has been triggered with viral messages calling for a boycott of Airtel Nigeria on October 9, this year in the wake of last Friday’s alleged job cuts affecting customer care workers of the mobile phone operator.
The mobile phone company could not be reached for comments on the alleged job cuts said to have been handed down 3000 workers, a development that has sparked online rage on discussion boards and social media networks on the internet.
Nigeria’s President’s fans have also taken their protest to Jonathan’s Facebook page where he currently count some 652,819 fans and have urged him to look into the alleged unfair deal to the Nigerian workers at the Indian mobile phone company.
The aggrieved Facebook fans of Jonathan that took the battle to Goodluck on the social media network are asking him to wade into allegations that by axing 3000 workers of the company on the eve of Nigeria’s 51st Independence Anniversary, the Indian mobile phone company had alleged treated them unfairly.
Sparked by the alleged unfair treatment of the workers at the mobile phone company, an online mass protest has gone viral over the last 48 hours asking subscribers to boycott Airtel Nigeria on October 9.
Airtel Nigeria could not be reached for comments on the matter
In the matter which has become viral over blogosphere, the online community is waging a call for subscribers of Airtel Nigeria to boycott the network on October 9, this year.
“Mr President we ar (sir) celebrating while foreigner dey (sic) ar (sic) frustrating youth that u (sic) promise (sic) jobs during ur (sic) campaign”, Philip Chukwuebuka a fan of President Jonathan posted on photos of the President seen marking the Independence Day at the seat of power in Aso Rock, Abuja.
Online protesters alleged that Airtel handed down the Independence Day eve shocker to its customer care agents after a wage dispute linked with plans by the Indian company to cut down wages from N75,000 to N30,00 monthly.
They alleged that the owners of the company had claimed that the Nigerian customer care agents were “paid too much” as a manager in India was paid the equivalent of N75,000.
“Fellow Nigerian about 3,000 workers lost there (sic) jobs yesterday a day!”, says an protest petition that has gone viral on Facebook, other social media circles as well as Nairaland, the nation’s most visited Internet discussion site.
According to Philip Chukwuebuka’s post on Goodluck’s Facebook fan page Airtel is allegedly suspending operations in its Abuja and Lagos call centres over refusal of its workers to accept a 60 per cent pay cut and another 50 per cent cut in workforce.
“Imagine a 60% reduction in salaries at a time when prices are spiraling upwards & such high level of unemployment!”, says the President’s fan tasking him on his promise to create jobs in the country.
“We can help our friends, brothers & sisters keep their jobs & support their families by boycotting Airtel & spread the word”, according to an online petition spreading across the Internet and calling for a boycott of Airtel Nigeria come October 9, this year.
To drive home their point, the protesters have set up a Facebook national public event, “Boycott Airtel” to protest the alleged job cuts on October 9, this year by refusing to send text or make calls on the network of the mobile phone company.
“My fellow Nigerian about 3thousand workers lost there jobs yesterday a day to our independence celebration. Let us join hands together as one and say NO to modern day “Slavery” by a fellow “Third World Country” stop loading your Airtel lines and on d 9th of October everyone having an Airtel should not “Make Call” or “Send Text” enough is enough from Multi National Corporation”, Sulaiman Kailani, a Facebook fan said in a post to Jonathan calling on other “Patriotic Nigerians” to support the cause.
The Airtel Nigeria issue has also become a topical debate on Nairaland, one of the nation’s most visited discussion websites.
Airtel had last year promised to create new jobs and drive employment creation programmes in the mobile phone company after outsourcing programmes of its previous owners, Zain of Kuwait, had led to massive job cuts and loss of morale, issues that were to impact its overall market performance.
Airtel paid $10.7billion for Zain African operations including Nigeria and had in July last year changed the name of the company, announced a planned $600 million injection into its operation over the next three years in an effort to gain local telecoms leadership in a market ranked as the fastest growing on the continent.