The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday picketed the offices of the telecommunications giant, MTN Nigeria, nationwide over anti-labour practices.But in a swift reaction to the development, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), which MTN belongs, described the move as unfortunate.A statement signed by the Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, said the association was very concerned and worried about the sudden development.
Also, Corporate Relations Executive, MTN Nigeria, Tobechukwu Okigbo, said: “Today’s (yesterday) 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 who were attacked by supposed NLC operatives and have sustained injuries.”
In Lagos, the picketing, which started as early as 5.00 a.m. at the head office of firm located at Falomo, prevented workers from gaining access into the building as the labour blocked access to the entrance, while those who worked overnight were locked up because they tried to prevent labour officials from gaining access into the compound.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, described MTN as the worst employer, saying the firm has violated all labour laws in the country.Wabba, who stated that the telecoms firm has almost 100 per cent of its workforce as casual workers, said the firm had refused the right of workers to freedom of association and freedom of workers to collectively bargain their condition of service as enshrined in International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention. Okigbo denied these claims, saying: “The telecommunications firm does not prevent its employees from associating among themselves as they deem fit and owe them the obligation to ensure they are not compelled to join associations.He said MTN supports the freedom of association as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.
At the Enugu regional office of the mobile telecommunications provider, the union members, led by the state chairman of the NLC, Mr. Virginus Nwobodo, who arrived at the Zik Avenue office of the firm as early as 7.30 a.m. with placards with the inscriptions “South Africans are not better than Nigerians”, “MTN, mind yourself,” “MTN, our mumu don do”, “MTN, why are you treating Nigerians like slaves”, “MTN regularise workers’ appointments”, among others, said the action would last till tomorrow.
Nwobodo said the company was not interested in workers’ welfare and had continued to enslave and pay peanuts to workers despite the huge money they are making.He said the management of the company had refused the workers to join labour movements.
Also, in Kano head office of the firm, the union members, led by the state Chairman of the NLC, Kabiru Ado Mingibri, stormed the Post Office road of the company as early as 7.30 a.m. preventing human and vehicular movement.
Mingibri, who spoke with journalists, said the picketing was directed by national headquarters of NLC against what he described as maltreatment of MTN members of staff.
Meanwhile, the Senior Manager, MTN Nigeria, Kano Office, Abdulhamid Hassan, said management of the MTN is already addressing the contentious issues.