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57 Vietnamese employees, Nexttel’s MD included, accused of working illegally in Cameroon

57 Vietnamese employees, Nexttel’s MD included, accused of working illegally in Cameroon
  • Comments   -   Friday, 23 November 2018 16:57

(Business in Cameroon) - Cameroonian minister of employment and vocational training, Zacharie Perevet, has just rejected the “validation of employment contracts for Viettel Cameroon’s Vietnamese employees”, a mobile phone company operating under the name Nexttel.

In a letter dated November 13 addressed to the company's Managing Director, the minister stressed that it did not “seem appropriate to him to grant the approval” requested in October 2018.

According to the minister, some of the employees concerned “hold temporary visas”, and Cameroonian regulations stipulate that “any employment contract of a foreigner residing in Cameroon with a temporary or tourist visa, is automatically rejected”. As well, he suggests Nexttel's top management to “stop all professional relations with the persons concerned, in case they have already started working”.

On a list of 23 employees, attached to the letter, are the names of Nexttel's Managing Director, Nguyen Duc Quang, and the Deputy Technical Director, Doan Thanh Binh, whose employment contracts expired on 15 October 2017 and 12 January 2013 respectively, according to the document. The other 21 employees hold temporary visas,” said Minister Perevet.

Last November 16, in a new letter addressed no longer to the MD in an irregular situation, but rather to the Chairman of the company’s Board, the Minister informed that “given the presence of Vietnamese workers in an irregular situation [...] and the fact that the Cameroonian native employees have, in 5 years, already acquired the necessary experience to occupy positions given to expatriates, measures will be taken to ensure that expired contracts are not renewed”.

This time, Zacharie Perevet attached to his correspondence a list of 34 names, including those of 27 employees whose contracts expired since 2013 in the worst case, and since 2016 in the best case. On the same list, seven employees hold contracts that “have never been filed” with the relevant Cameroonian authorities, but “have been working for almost a year,” he says.

In 2014, we learnt from authorized sources, the situation of Vietnamese employees of the 3rd mobile operator in Cameroon, an irregular situation, had already been the subject of a meeting at the office of the Prime Minister where the company's managers were duly reminded of the need to comply with Cameroonian regulations applying to foreigners in terms of paid employment.

Let’s note that this Prime Minister's decision occurs in a context where the company’s two major shareholders are competing for full control. These include Viettel Global - a telecommunications group affiliated with the Vietnamese Ministry of Defense, which owns 70% of Nexttel's capital (which became Viettel’s most successful subsidiary in Africa in the first half of 2016) - and Bestinver, a company controlled by Cameroonian billionaire Baba Danpullo, who holds 30% of the capital.

Brice R. Mbodiam

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