Why we picketed MTN, by NLC

Why we are picketing MTN, says NLC

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday said it decided to picket all MTN offices nationwide because of the unfriendly labour practices of the company, saying no amount of blackmail will deter the union from continuing with the action.

The MTN office in the Maitama District of Abuja, yesterday was under lock and key following the nationwide picketing of the company by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

A security man, who pleaded anonymity, said there was a directive from MTN headquarters in Lagos that all staff of the organisation should not come to work until further notice.

NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said all its efforts and those brokered by the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) to address the issues of unfriendly labour practices and disallowing its workers to unionise failed as the company fail to return to the negotiating table.

He said even though the company makes 60 per cent of its profit from Nigeria, it is only in Nigeria that MTN workers are not unionised and are subjected to casualisation in total violation of the labour laws in the country and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions.

“Today marks the second day of the picketing of MTN offices nationwide by the NLC and its civil society allies. This press statement is intended to explain the reasons for this action as well as debunk the false information being fed to the public by MTN that our members have been unruly in prosecuting this action which is intended to divert attention from the real issues

“MTN Nigeria, since it commenced operations in Nigeria and in clear violation of extant national and international labour laws, especially ILO Conventions 87 and 98 has denied its workers the fundamental principles of the rights at work.

“It similarly indulges in other anti-labour practices such as casualisation for nearly all types of work, fixed- term contract work for Nigerian workers, worst forms of precarious work, etc.

“It is on record that the NLC, on several occasions protested to the MTN and government about these unwholesome practices,” Wabba said.

The World Decent Work Day marked on October 7, last year marked a watershed in these protests as NLC briefly picketed the telco’s Maitama office in Abuja.

“In response to this action of NLC, MTN reached out to NECA which brokered a meeting. However, due to inexplicable reasons, MTN opted out of the negotiations to the chagrin and embarrassment of NECA.

“Thereafter every effort by NECA and NLC to get MTN to the negotiating table failed. Frustrated, NECA pulled out of the negotiations. Subsequent efforts by NLC yielded no response either. Left with no other choice, NLC served MTN notice of a picket in line with the provisions of the law. This action commenced across the country yesterday, Monday, July 9, 2018. And in prosecuting this picket, our members have been peaceful and orderly,” he added.

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 that we are clear about our objectives and we shall not allow anything to 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.

“The Falomo police have in their custody one of the attackers and an ID card of one of the assailants.

“MTN therefore, instead of resorting to cheap blackmail and propaganda should do the needful, give to Nigerian workers in their employ, their rights to freely associate, and hold an opinion as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution,  the Labour Laws and Conventions 87 and 98 of the ILO.

“It is equally important to explain that Nigeria is the only country MTN refuses to allow workers to unionise. In South Africa where the company comes from, workers are unionised. Indeed, our counterparts in South Africa are worried that we have allowed this matter to linger for so long as MTN may choose to try to impose similar conditions on them.

“In Ghana, workers are unionised as in every other country MTN carries on business. It is important to point out that MTN makes over 60 per cent of its global money in Nigeria. Why then must it be so disdainful of our laws and people.

“However, it’s acts of impunity are not entirely new. Nigerians may recall it was the same MTN in clear breach of national security that imperiled the lives of our security personnel in the Northeast over which it was fined.

“We insist that companies, no matter how rich or powerful must obey the laws of the land. We insist they must treat Nigerians fairly and decently. No one should be above the law.  Let all Nigerians know we are committed to this operation. We have the will and the means to sustain it.

“Finally, we commend the Nigeria Police so far for their exemplary conduct. We single out for special commendation the police in and around Falomo, Lagos.”

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