01.08.2023 Featured Employees Complain of Poor Pay, Exploitation at Chinese Company Huawei

Published 1st Aug, 2023

By Timileyin Akinmoyeje

Huawei, a multinational IT company headquartered in China, started its operations in Nigeria in 2000.

Since then, its business odyssey in Africa’s most populous country has made it a perennial recipient of many merit awards from private, corporate and national entities in the country.

Most recently, the Chinese multinational received the National Productivity Merit Award from the Federal Government of Nigeria for “advancing ICT in Nigeria”.

However, it’s not all rosy for the employees of the organisation.

Speaking to FIJ, Ademola (not real name), a front office engineer at Huawei, described the working conditions at the company as harsh, especially for non-permanent or contract staff.

“There are more contract staff than there are permanent staff at the Huawei office in Lagos. I can say we constitute about 70 percent of the entire staff roaster,” Ademola said.

“The truth is, they don’t treat us like we are graduates and experts at Hauwei. They treat us like we are illiterates.

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“We are always at the mercy of our bosses because promotion doesn’t come easy, unlike what the permanent staff are used to enjoying on a yearly basis.

“Presently, we have employees who have spent eight years in the same position, just because they are non-permanent staff. Rather than promote them, or organise conversion tests for them, they employ new permanent staff from outside and train them.”


Despite the unfavourable conditions and the bleak prospects of moving up the career ladder at Hauwei, the affected non-permanent staff see quitting their jobs as suicidal.

“There are not many other places you can be employed as a front office or transmissions engineer in this country,” Doja (not real name), another contract staff member at Huawei, told FIJ.

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Despite Huawei’s penchant for employing more of contract staff than permanent staff, FIJ gathered that the outsourced staff earn significantly lower salaries compared with their colleagues.

“The pay for entry level contract staff front office engineer is N120,000 after tax deduction, while that of entry level permanent staff engineer is N450,000. The difference is huge,” said Doja.

“I believe they think less of us as outsourced FO engineers. We are as qualified as the graduate trainees they have.

“We are equally graduates and professionals in our respective fields, but they treat us like we are illiterates.

“We’ve been asking for additional pay since the end of COVID. It’s now worse because of the cost of transportation. Many of us cannot even afford going to the office steadily anymore.”


While speaking with FIJ, Mide, a full-time employee at Huawei, said she was comfortable with the pay package she received from the company on a monthly basis.

She, however, added that people in her role were better paid in other countries.

“In South Africa for one, managerial staff do not get as low as I do, using the dollar as a standard. But I think I am relatively okay with it. Na Naija we dey, and I didn’t get this job on a platter, you know,” Mide told FIJ in a phone interview.

FIJ gathered that the basic salary for front office engineers in the United States of America is between $5,000 and $6,000 a month.

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In his conversation with FIJ, Ademola explained that Huawei once rejected the suggestion of hybrid work.

“Because of the recent hike in transportation, some of us have found it difficult to come to work regularly. Some people now get to sleep at the office because they cannot afford to go home every day,” said Ademola.

According to Huawei’s labour policy, employees can form unions and “join trade unions of their choosing”.

In reality, however, the workers at the Chinese company are not allowed to form any unions. Workers in Huawei are also not allowed to discuss salary increase. From what FIJ gathered, discussing such is a “level one violation of company rules”.

FIJ gathered that the company’s unfriendly policies have forced the affected staff to stage a protest under the auspices of Private Telecommunications and Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria.


protesting Huawei employees

Many times in the past, different individuals and groups registered dissents against Huawei for profiteering and exploitation.

A 2016 report shows that a certain Jude Ifeanyi once submitted a petition against Huawei to the Federal House of Representatives in 2014.

The Guardian also published a similar story about how outsourced workers were being unfairly treated by the company in 2015.

In the report, Huawei workers complained about salary deductions, physical assault and unfair impositions of labour conditions and policies, among other things.

In 2021, additional reports by The Guardian Nigeria, The Sun, and The Nation documented strike threats made by Huawei employees because of unfair labour practices.

In April, the Private Telecommunications and Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PTECSSAN) issued a three-day strike warning notice to the company because of its unfriendly labour practices.

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FIJ further gathered from employee reviews on Glassdoor, an online job review platform, that the working conditions in the company are torrid.

Complaints of dictatorship, poor pay and exploitation frequently came up in Glassdoor’s review of Huawei.


RGS worldwide

FIJ eventually found out that Huawei’s contract staff are hired through a recruitment and staffing agency called RGS Worldwide.

Ademola, speaking on the nature of his employment, alleged that RGS worldwide is also complicit in the way Huawei unfairly treats contract staff.

“RGS is an enabler of everything Huawei does and the way they treat us. They don’t do anything to fight on our behalf. Instead of doing that, they encourage Huawei to further inflict more inhuman treatments on us,” Ademola said.

FIJ phoned the company on its official numbers — 08126230072, 08191512736, 07029692240 — for comments on the matter, but they were all unreachable

On July 27, FIJ further made phone calls to two human resource staff of RGS worldwide, but they vehemently refused to comment on the issue.

FIJ also sent emails to Huawei and RGS on July 27and July 28 respectively for comments on the matter, but they had not been responded to at press time.

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Published 1st Aug, 2023

By Timileyin Akinmoyeje


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