MTN set for showdown with former manager - TechCentral

MTN set for showdown with former manager

Brian Seligmann

Former MTN SA senior manager Brian Seligmann, who left the mobile operator late last year, is taking the company to court, demanding almost R1m in severance pay he says is being withheld from him.

Seligmann (pictured), who is joining MTN rival Cell C on 11 January as executive head of products and innovation, was senior manager for data at MTN. In that role, he was responsible for developing the company’s 3G products, pricing and strategy. He was at MTN for eight years.

He says his lawyer has prepared papers, which will be filed with the high court when it returns from recess on 17 January. He wants MTN to cash up and accuses the company of acting unlawfully.

When MTN SA offered voluntary retrenchment packages to staff last year as part of a company-wide cost-cutting initiative, Seligmann jumped at the opportunity as he says he had already been looking to move on to “greener pastures”.

His application was accepted.

“They then heard I was probably going to join Cell C and the head of human resources phoned me and said that if I was going to Cell C, then the retrenchment package would be cancelled,” Seligmann says.

He accuses MTN of “shifting the goalposts” — he was told that he could only receive the retrenchment benefits if he signed a restraint of trade agreement. This would have prevented him from joining Cell C.

“The restraint wasn’t part of the original deal,” Seligmann says. “You can’t introduce something like that after the fact. What MTN has done is not legal.”

But MTN SA group executive for human resources, Themba Nyathi, says all MTN SA staff members who accept voluntary retrenchment must sign termination agreements.

These agreements include confidentiality and restraint clauses, he says. “We can’t treat Brian differently to anyone else … [so]we are treating this as a resignation.”

MTN says it will defend the matter if it goes to court.

Seligmann, meanwhile, is joining Cell C at an interesting time in its development. The company has committed to spend billions of rand this year building what could be SA’s most advanced 3G wireless network.  — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral

16 Comments

  1. Great. Now MTN is going to charge us (the MTN cellphone users) even more from all the lawyer costs and eventually paying this dude.

  2. Do we care! of what interest is this article to us? Come on Duncan McLeod, this is a pointless article of no relevance to anyone except for Brian who appears to be getting some nice publicity.

  3. Anonymous Coward on

    Restraint of Trade clauses are NOT legal – and for MTN to introduce it only later is not legal.

    A RoT only benefit one party – and that is the company, and not the worker.

    This should be interesting.

  4. Anonymous Coward on

    How come you retrench somebody – but then enforce a Restraint of Trade clause on that person, thereby forcing that person to sit without work for a long time? Doesn’t sound legal at all…

  5. Accepting a retrenchment comes with restraints on working for competitors in the same industry? Sounds mental to me. Do all those people have to change careers now? Sell popcorn or something? Crazy…

  6. I know Brian and what he contributed hugely to put MTN where they are now. Sounds to me like a wee bit of spite to get him back for leaving… I say good luck to him and I hope he gets his well deserved money.

  7. working for MTN is not Ayoba on

    Working for MTN is not ayoba, i did and i hated it, it was the worst time of my life. I know many people who worked for MTN and left and i am referring to Network Group. It is all about who you chommies with and how suck up to other people!

  8. We all dream of something for nothing – like landing a job with a competitor and then later applying for a big voluntary retrenchment payout. When it doesn’t work out, it’s disappointing but not worth leveraging your media connections to publicise

  9. @Insight: We approached Brian when we heard about his plans to take the matter to the high court. He did not approach us. In fact, he wasn’t particularly keen for the matter to be publicised
    @Satriani: From feedback we’ve received, this issue is of great interest to MTN staffers. There’s little doubt it will also be keenly watched by HR practitioners

  10. I’ll back MTN here as I think they were good enough to offer staff a great voluntary retrenchment package and think Brian is being incredibly ungrateful as he should have been taken out the building the same day they found out he was working for a competitor – like anyone else! I wish Brian luck at his new job but really think he shouldn’t burn his bridges – MTN were good to him, otherwise he wouldnt have stayed for 8 years!

  11. MTN is not known for it’s progressive human resource policies and well known within science ,engineering and technical community for their harrassment and bullying tactics.

  12. Marketing Girl on

    I agree with Batman MTN is sweat shop of note. They work their crew to the bone with very little to show for it other than senior executive’s having enriched themselves to ridiculous extent. Not a employer brand to strive to work for particulary not if you are technical engineer etc. Rumour has it this is all being offshored and outsourced apparently from and or via Dubai.

  13. Not sure if this could be deemed news worthy, but for what it is, this Brian dude seemly would have only accepted the Editors interest in his case fully aware of the anticipated public sympathy and naturally gather , this publication was motivated due to personal sympathy or vindication against MTN , taking into account we have no view of the circumstances and merits of the case. Personally tech-central should have applied better weighting on the news worthyness of the case at this stage.

  14. Batman, what is the relevance?Again, taking into account the merits of the case are not yet estabhlished.

    A lack of objectivity should not be confused with public sympathy . These kind of articles may draw public attention with little editorial relevance,besides the fact that this may just seems like a case of spin-doctering by the “main actor”.

    Bateman, whats your interest in this article …sympathy for Brian or the cynical anti-cooperate dance.

  15. Disappointed on

    So sad to see such negative news about a great Employer when Brian was actually not affected by retrenchments but personally requested a voluntary package, MTN is AYOBA & every person employed in whichever organisation should be grateful they have a job in these difficult times…..some people just seek constant attention and are never satisfied no matter what job they have or how much they earn!

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