Huawei Nigeria has allegedly compelled its staff managing Airtel Nigeria’s network to resume at the office amid speculations of COVID-19 infections in the organization.
This was revealed by a source in Huawei, who preferred anonymity.
According to him, Huawei Management forced staff managing Airtel network to resume at the office even when some members of staff were said to have tested positive to COVID-19.
He alleged, “When we reminded Huawei that the office space is not safe for us, as some staff tested positive to COVID-19 recently, we were told Airtel insisted we must resume full-time at our Oriental Hotel office.
“The management insisted that we must stop working from home and resume at the enclosed 3rd-floor office in the hotel building.
“The office is overcrowded and has a central Ac Unit with no ventilation. Airtel as a business still has their staff working from home and only a few have resumed partially.
“This has led to some staffs contacting COVID 19 and the management of Huawei, with no regard for the safety of their staff, despite the fact that some staff still tested positive to COVID-19, has insisted that we must resume work fully on August 29, 2021, or risk losing our jobs.
“Huawei also manages MTN network but MTN does not meddle in the way they run their business and staff on the MTN account have been working from home since lockdown days and not made to resume at the Oriental Hotel office.
“A number of staff members have resigned but the rest are stuck with Huawei since it is the only company handling Managed Services for all network operators in Nigeria, meaning that if you are a transmission engineer, for example, you must work with Huawei.”
Huawei, Airtel react
When contacted, Huawei Nigeria, through its Media Consultant, admitted that the firm had asked a section of its staff to resume at the office and that two of the staff tested positive to COVID-19.
A statement issued by Dorothy Johnson, Deputy Human Resource Director, HR Department, Huawei Technologies Company (Nigeria) Limited, disclosed that the company had implemented full remote work from home effective 23rd March 2020 and the situation remains the same to date.
She stated, “The full remote working is with the exception of a small section of the business which requires daily monitoring to maintain network stability and avoid telecom interruption that could impact society, economy, and other essential critical infrastructures that serve the public health and safety, that opened up on 1st April 2021 with full Covid-19 Protocols in place.
“Last week of July 2021, we learnt that a staff of our Indigenous NOC Management SBC was ill and without delay, on 29th July 2021, we instructed them to request their personnel to commence work from home.
“Huawei, being a responsible Organization, followed up with the NOC Management and encouraged them to inform their staff to go for Covid-19 test. We can confirm that they informed us of two positives with test results dated August 4th and 5th 2021 respectively, please note that this was 6 days after the NOC was shut down on 29th July 2021.
“Huawei Nigeria continues to partner with the Federal Government of Nigeria and well-meaning institutions in ensuring that the Government stipulated protocols are effectively in place and duly adhered to.”
Airtel reacts too
Meanwhile, Airtel Nigeria has disclosed that it had implemented full remote working since March 2020 and the situation has not changed to date.
Reacting to the allegation, Emeka Oparah, Director/Vice President, Corporate Communications & CSR, Airtel Nigeria, told Nairametrics that the Telco prioritizes the wellbeing and safety of its employees, customers and partners and it will continue to do so regardless of the impact on its operations.
He stated, “Airtel Nigeria implemented full remote working since March 2020 and the situation has not changed till date. Only our showrooms are open for in-person transactions but with strict observance of the Covid-19 protocols.
“As a policy, we prioritize the wellbeing and safety of our employees, customers and partners and we will continue to do so regardless of the impact on our operations.
“Also, as an organization, we do not interfere with the operations of other independent organizations whether they are our suppliers or not.
“Airtel Nigeria will continue to partner with the government and other well-meaning institutions in ensuring that the existing COVID-19 protocols are duly adhered to by our employees and other stakeholders.”