By Michael Adesanya/Abeokuta
The Deputy President of the National Union of Postal and Telecommunications Employee (NUPTE), Mr Dele Kolade, on Monday said the union would continue to picket MTN until its demands are met.
Kolade said the union was picketing the organisation because of its practices that were inconsistent with Nigerian labour laws and International Labour Organisation.
He said MTN do not allow its workers the freedom to unionise or freedom of association, which Nigerian constitution enshrined that workers should have the right to associate and belong to a union.
“MTN have been engaged in giving workers contract appointment as almost all its workers are on three to six months contract appointments and they are not permitted to participate in union activities
“The company has been doing all manners of things and no incentives; it doesn’t pay the social security just because it doesn’t want to pay social protection such as pension and other things.
“This kind of thing do not happen in South Africa where they are coming from and Nigerians are fed up,’’ he said.
Kolade said that over the years, MTN had been treating Nigerian workers with levity without regard for their rights and privileges hence the protest.
“We have met with the management severally and it has promised to change. That is why today after several entreaties, we have decide to picket them.
“The picketing is all over the country and as I am talking to you now, our members are in Lagos, we have made up our mind that we continue to picket them until they their change attitude.
“We are doing the picketing in Abuja, Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Kano all over the country. We are not going to stop until they change their attitude, until they stop the idea of casualisation and give our people the right as employees and keep them as full workers and not as contract workers,’’ Kolade said.
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC on Monday shut down all MTN outlets in Ogun State. The NLC led by their State Chairman, Akeem Ambali stormed the Oke-Ilewo, Abeokuta head office as early as 7am to carry out the three-days nationwide closed down on MTN.
Ambali said the action was in compliance with National Executive Council directive for MTN’s deliberate refusal to unionized their staff, describing it as ‘modern slavery’.
Ambali accused the telecommunication company of anti-labour policies for limiting the career progression and casualisation of their workers.
The NLC boss noted that NLC, together with National Union of Postal and Telecommunication, NUPTE and National Employers Consultative Council, had earlier engaged the telecommunication company for the implementation of the Nigerian labour law.
He added that, the union also met with MTN in December, 2017 and gave them six months ultimatum for the implementation of the Labour policies, which MTN reneged, an action he described as ‘rigidity’.
“This action was carried out for the deliberate refusal of MTN to unionized their members, we see the action as an attempt to enslave them.
“We also know that there are so many anti-labour policies being implemented by MTN, denying people right to association, denying them regular promotion, casualisation of workers and deliberate policy of limiting the career progression of Nigerian MTN workers.
“This action is a three-day warning for MTN and other telecommunications companies in Nigeria and if within three days they failed to meet up with our demands, we shall press for seven days closed down”.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Monday picketed MTN office in Kano. NLC members, who stormed the office at Civic Centre in Kano as early 6:30a.m, were led by the Chairman of the union, Kabiru Ado Minjibir.
During the picketing, activities at the MTN office were completed grounded as workers were prevented from doing their work by the protesters.
During picketing, the NLC members carried placards with various inscriptions such as ‘respect rule of law’, `we say no to casualisation’ and `workers’ rights must be protected among others’.
Minjibir said the action was in compliance with the directive of the national headquarters of the NLC.
“The action is necessary in order to protest the hostile working environment for the MTN workers in the country,’’ he said.
He said the picketing became necessary following the failure of the management of the company to address the workers’ plight in spite of the agreement reached between it and NLC leadership in 2017.
“The picketing is a directive from the union headquarters and is a nationwide exercise, which is against the exploitation, casualisation and infringement of the fundamental human rights of the workers.
“The action also became inevitable as the company has refused to heed to advice to stop its inhuman treatment of workers.
“About 80 per cent of the staff are casuals and they are not allowed to unionise, which is against the International Labour Organisation (ILO) treaty.
“The NLC will not fold its arms and allow enslavement of our fellow citizens in their own country with actions that contravenes Article 98 of the 1989 workers convention.”
Senior Assistant Manager, MTN office Kano, Abdulhamid Hassan said the management of the company was currently discussing with relevant stakeholders with a view to resolving the issue.