The organised labour yesterday picketed MTN Lagos office and did same simultaneously across the country. It said it is in protest against the telco’s alleged anti-workers policies.
Nigeria’s largest carrier was accused of casualising workers, non-unionisation of workers and homophobic behaviour to the Nigerian workers aside other anti-labour practices.
The labour group, including the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), the National Union of Postal and Telecommunications Employees (NUPTE),Lagos zone, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), said picketing MTN was in accprdance with the country’s labour laws.
National President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba who led the campaign, said 80 per cent of workers in the telco are casual despite its being the biggest telecoms firm in Africa.
Wabba said MTN is the worst employer of labour as it has violated all labour laws in the country. “No right to associate, no right to have union, social protection denied workers as it hires and fires almost after three months and after series of letters written to them which they disregard,we have no choice but to protest,” he said.
He said the protest will not stop until workers exploitation by the firm stops because casualisation of workers can’t be tolerated in South Africa, Ghana and other countries where MTN operates despite.
“We have engaged them severally in the past and if you can remember,we picketed them in Abuja on October 7 which was the decent work day and after meetings held,they still went ahead to do what they used to do. They are capitalist,not ready for dialogue as workers are treated as slaves,without benefit of employment.
“No respect for our laws and since they don’t respect our laws,they don’t deserve to be respected and we will continue to challenge them until decency of workers is achieved.
“We must say no to the exploitation of the country by them through their illegal charges and non declaration of tax where they are milking the country dry,”he said.
But MTN has denied any wrong doing. It lamented the attack and destruction of property that followed the action.
Its Corporate Relations Executive, Tobechukwu Okigbo, said: “Today’s violence and the needless destruction of property is deeply saddening. As always our primary concern is the safety and well-being of our employees, some of whom were attacked by supposed NLC operatives and have sustained injuries.
“We do not prevent our employees from associating amongst themselves as they deem fit and owe our employees the obligation to ensure they are not compelled to join associations. MTN supports the freedom of association as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
“All workers have rights that should be protected. We work hard to not only ensure that this is done but also to ensure that our company is a Great Place to Work. We will continue to champion our peoples’ rights, whether they are part of a union or not and work hard to minimise disruptions in service to our customers.”
Also, the umbrella body of telcos, the Association of Licensed Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), called for caution. It warned against further vandalism of telecoms infrastructure as that would compromise national security.
Its Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo said: “Damage to any telecom facilities will lead to the disruption of critical national security and economic services which will expose innocent citizens to great danger.
“Attempts have been made to disrupt the network operations of some of our members through the shut down and vandalisation of critical network facilities. The implication of such disruption will lead to severe poor quality of services with attendant national security implications and far reaching implications on other services that are dependent on the telecommunications industry.
“We hereby strongly request government and its law enforcement agencies to intervene expeditiously, otherwise we will advise our members to consider preventive shut down in order to avoid further damage to network facilities.
“We trust parties will respect each other’s constitutional rights in the interest of our nation Nigeria.”
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