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MTN faces employee court action

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Despite pending legal action against MTN, the company's former senior manager for data, Brian Seligmann, says there is no bad blood.

Seligmann will institute a legal claim of almost R1 million against MTN, following the company's reluctance to uphold a promised retrenchment package. Seligmann applied for a package last year when MTN was offering all staff members voluntary retrenchment.

Speaking to ITWeb this morning, Seligmann seemed relaxed about the pending lawsuit, saying only that he was sad the matter had reached the media. “I don't want this to become an MTN-bashing session,” he explained.

He says the legal action is a matter of principle, to get MTN to honour its agreement with him.

Part of the process

MTN started a batch of voluntary retrenchments at the end of October last year, with plans to let go of around 400 employees. Seligmann says he decided to apply for a package when the memo was mailed to all employees, since he had been considering a new challenge.

He says MTN, at the time, verbally approved his package, but subsequently revoked the application when it was discovered that Seligmann had been talking to MTN rival Cell C for a possible position.

Seligmann says he had not signed any agreement with Cell C at the time, only formally accepting the offer long after his final agreed day at MTN. His official last day at MTN would have been and was 4 December, and the agreement with Cell C was only signed a few weeks later.

After the fact

He says after MTN declined his application for retrenchment, it produced a restraint of trade agreement, which it asked him to sign. He says the telco explained that, if he signed it, he would be awarded his retrenchment application, but not before.

“It was at that point that I decided to get a lawyer,” he says. Seligmann's legal advisors have subsequently issued MTN with two letters, one to ask the company to honour the initial agreement to grant the retrenchment and another to indicate the matter would be taken to court.

Seligmann is now waiting for the courts to open on 18 January to procure a date for the litigation to begin.

Cell C will take on Seligmann as of Monday as its newest executive head of products and innovation. “I am excited to start a new challenge, and I believe working at Cell C will give me that. The company is exciting and vibrant.”

MTN did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.

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