- ATCON to NLC: You are scaring away investors
By Oluwatobi Opusunju
The workers union in a press statement has accused the telecommunication firm of continuously violating extant national and international labour laws in “the 18 years since it began operation in Nigeria.”
At the start of this week, NLC began the picketing of MTN offices across the country over the telcos’ alleged anti-labour practices. They claimed the telecom company had, for years, refused its workers from participating in unionism, while paying them below national minimum wage and laying off staff members arbitrarily without benefit against civilized labour practices.
NLC also accused MTN of indulging in casualisation for nearly all types of work, fixed- term contract work for Nigerian workers, and other abuses that include exposing its workers to worst forms of precarious environment without the required protection. The NLC alleged it is only in Nigeria that MTN refuses to allow workers to unionise.
“MTN Nigeria since it commenced operations in Nigeria, in clear violation of extant national and international labour laws, especially ILO Conventions 87 and 98 has denied its workers the fundamental principles of their rights at work,” NLC said.
The congress explained further that on several occasions, it had protested to the MTN and government about these unwholesome practices. But its demands have apparently been falling on deaf ears, a situation that eventually led to the picketing of its offices nationwide.
The workers union has also denied some media reports that its members vandalalised MTN’s properties in the course of the picketing actions.
“In prosecuting this picket, our members have been peaceful and orderly. We have not destroyed the property of MTN and we do not intend to do so as that is not our objective anyway. There is no doubt we are clear about our objectives and we shall not allow anything distract us. We are responsible workers and we are alive to our duties and responsibilities.
“Even when MTN sponsored members of a private security company (with which it works) to attack and injure some of our members, we resisted the option of a proportionate response,” said , the NLC president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba in the statement.
Meanwhile, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has berated the NLC for in its actions a statement released in Lagos. The umbrella body for telecom companies in Nigeria accused NLC of trying to scare away investors.
The statement by its Executive Secretary, Mr. Ajibola Olude says: ATCON “sees these nationwide disruptions of its member’s operations as unnecessary venture and it an intentional attempt to frustrate and sabotage the effort of our member to provide a seamless communication for all Nigerians. We are even worried that the picketers became so violent during their unnecessary demonstration. ATCON thinks if NLC wants to do anything at all NLC should have peacefully carried out their picketing instead of going violent.
“The two days ago picketing of MTN Nigeria is uncalled for at this material time that some companies are laying off their staff because of poor economic situation in the country. This action by NLC has pointed to the fact that some people are out to sabotage ATCON’s efforts to encourage its members to make more investment in infrastructure development of the sector.
“The amount of money lost during these demonstration is alarming and ATCON thinks NLC should have approach the matter in a more professional and civilized manner. We would appreciate NLC to write to us before embarking on any demonstration that can put the security of the nation in jeopardy. Our members are law abiding corporate organizations that have been contributing to the wealth of Nigeria.”