By Victor Ahiuma-Young, Anayo Okoli, Princewil Ekwuijuru & Boluwaji Obahopo
Global System for Mobile Communication, GSM giant, MTN, Monday, berated Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, for picketing its corporate head office in Lagos and other operational offices across the country over alleged refusal to allow its employees join union freely, among others.
While denying preventing its employees to freely unionise, MTN accused NLC leaders of violence and attacking some of its employees at its Ikoyi office.
MTN in a statement by its Corporate Relations Executive, Tobechukwu Okigbo, said: “We do not prevent our employees from associating among 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 minimize disruptions in service to our customers.
Meanwhile, NLC and its affiliates picketed and crippled activities of MTN nationwide over alleged unfair labour practices, including casualisation of workers and refusal to allow workers join union, contrary the Trade Union Act and section 40 of the Nigeria’s constitution.
The picketing was recorded in Abia, Kano, Kogi, Bayelsa, Oyo and Bauchi, among other states.
At the Corporate headquarters in Ikoyi, Lagos, the picketing was led by President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, and other principal officials of NLC
Among the NLC affiliates visible at the picketing were the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, National Union of Postal and Telecommunications Employees, NUPTE, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, National Union Construction, Civil Engineering Workers, Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services Employees and National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Leather, Rubber and Non-Metallic Products Employees.
They accused the MTN of refusal to allow workers join union freely, casualisation of workers, and homophobic behaviour to the Nigerian workers.
President of NLC, Comrade Wabba, claimed over 80 per cent of workers were casual workers, despite the company being the biggest telecommunication firm in Africa, lamenting that it was only in Nigeria that MTN had been engaging in alleged unfair practices.
Wabba claimed MTN had violated all laws of labour in the country, saying “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 than to protest”, he asserted.
He warned that the protest would continue until MTN agreed to allow workers to freely unionise as done in South Africa, Ghana and other countries where it operates, despite Nigeria being where they make the huge profit.
‘’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,’’ Wabba said.