Fred Itua, Abuja
Some former workers with a Lagos-based firm, TSL Contact Processing Services Limited, a subsidiary of Teleperformance (TP) Nigeria Limited, are angry. They said the COVID-19 pandemic was a perfect excuse for their Italian employers to terminate their employments in outright defiance of their terms of agreement.
Some of the former staff, who ventilated their grievances in chats with the reporter, narrated what they termed their ordeals in the hands of their employers.
When approached by Daily Sun to react to the allegations, senior officials of the company declined comments.
But one of the workers, Olumiyiwa Oyebamiji, said he worked as a quality analyst before his untimely sack. He said, despite repeated letters to the company from his lawyers, the firm has refused to shift ground and stick to their terms of agreement.
He said: “I was employed as a quality analyst with Teleperformance in April 2019 and was excited that I would be working for a multinational company. I felt the working conditions would be top-notch. The client that we would be working for was actually Facebook and it was expected that we would travel to Lisbon, Portugal, since they were already in operation for three years. We were to learn from them the programme, Digital Marketing Expert.
“We never got to travel. It was just a hoax. Instead, they already had plans for someone from Portugal to come down to Nigeria to train us. This was the beginning of my problems. When he came down, instead of helping me and my colleague in the department, he totally left us and expected us to fail.
“After the first calibration, he sent a mail that he was not sure we were ready or even up to speed with the programme. We quickly noticed his modus operandi and the next calibration we had with him, it was zero deviation. He even threatened to sack and remove me at any point in time he deemed fit.
“I was happy when he left. But barely four months of start-up, my manager was sacked from the company without any valid reason. The IT fellow who was also part of the management team was sacked the following month. The HR man was also sacked.
“I knew that a problem was brewing, especially as the place was being run by an Italian. A site director, another Italian, was brought into the place.
“The environment became toxic and many started to leave. In February, word filtered in that I would be sacked. I went to my manager and asked what exactly I did, but no reason was given. Later they were told by the global HR that they could not sack me, since I only had one query in my file.
“To my surprise, I got a query for not completing an online course that had nothing to do with my work, which my manager did not complete also. The last straw came in July when I got a query for not flagging a call.
“That’s the sad experience in the so-called multinational company, where nepotism and racism are the order of the day.”
Another worker, Usorohb Ubong-Abasi, said he had a major accident in the line of duty, but was abandoned by the company.
He said: “This is the story of how I went from an agile 29-year-old man who was an asset to his family to a physically challenged fellow with a torn posterior cruciate ligament and largely unable to function at full capacity. I have gradually become a liability to my immediate nuclear family.
“A lot of this has to do with a job offer I received from Teleperformance, which I received on October 22, 2019. On arrival at Teleperformance office, I was immediately enrolled for an intensive, one-month training and exposed to the inner mechanics, systems and algorithms that would later power my performance on the job.
“On November 21, 2019, two days after completion of training and introduction to the floor where other marketing managers had their workstations, I had an accident on my way from work, which was promptly reported to my managers over the phone, although not officially through an email as it took a while to process the shock.
“A few days after the accident, while I was in the hospital, I was queried for being absent from work. At this juncture, it dawned on me that I had not officially communicated my predicament. So, I drafted a mail and sent same. In the email, I clearly explained that I had a pending sick leave that wasn’t exhausted and in the process detailed out the fact that I had an accident.
“This needed some official medical backing, which I gladly obliged. I attached a sick certificate clearly stating that I had an accident and needed best rest for a while. Prior to the sick leave certificate, it did feel as though I was going to lose my job. The tone of communication with my manager and the silence from the company itself threatened as though my job was on the line.
“On account of this threat, I managed as hard as I could to put myself together and appear for work, since that was the only means of survival I had. On the second day, my left leg had swollen remarkably as I had gone against medical advice in a bid to secure my job.
“I showed that leg to the operations manager, Alex Asomba, and the human resource officer, Oluwafemi Ayeni. Despite being in difficult positions as they would be short of staff, they advised I should rest the leg further and offered me some days off to further obtain leave of absence from work.
“I started receiving threats of sack, need to explain absence from work and probable actions that would be taken against me. At some point, I threatened to take legal actions if they kept on threatening to sack me. Their response was that I had no leverage since I was never confirmed as a staff and was still on probation. This rendered me totally helpless as I struggled between recuperating psychologically, emotionally, physically and really from the embarrassment of not being able to fend for myself as before.
“These incidents occurred prior to the COVID-19 lockdown. As I write this piece, I cannot run, I can only walk slowly as any attempt to walk fast makes my knee wobble.
“Teleperformance, through its HR, has only affirmed that I am on the waiting list to be re-employed whenever there is an opening.
“At this point, I do not know where to find help, neither do I have anything to use as collateral to get a loan of N1.5 million needed for my surgery. I do not wish to resume work medically unfit.”
Several attempts were made to get officials of the firm to respond to the allegations to ensure fair hearing and balance, but all were rebuffed.
Head of human resources of the company, Oluwafemi Ayeni, when contacted, declined comments, asserting that he was not authorised to speak to the media. He promised to send the inquiries to the appropriate authorities in the firm, stating that the response would be mailed to the reporter. No such mail was received.
On Saturday, August 22, an editor also spoke with Ayeni, and he reassured him that his firm would send its reactions by Monday. But no response was received from anyone on behalf of the company till press time.