Business activities at MTN offices in no fewer than seven states were on Monday disrupted for several hours, following the picketing of the various offices by organised labour.
But, it could get worse as the workers have insisted they will continue the picketing until all their demands are met by the telecommunications giant.
Organised labour led by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) held the picketing in Abia, Lagos, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Kano, Enugu and Ibadan
After nearly two years of failed negotiations between the management of telecommunication giant, MTN and organised labour to allow workers of the company to unionise, the workers on Monday, shut down the office of the telecomm giant for several hours
In Lagos, the workers accused the firm of casualisation of workers, non-unionisation of workers and homophobic behaviour to the Nigerian workers aside other labour ills.
From the parent labour body,Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), the National Union of Postal and Telecommunications Employees (NUPTE),Lagos zone, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW),the need to picket MTN is more of obedience to the country’s labour laws.
National President of NLC,who led the picketing,Ayuba Wabba said 80 per cent of workers are casual workers despite the company being the biggest telecommunication firm in Africa.
Wabba said MTN is the worst employer of labour as it has violated all laws of labour in the country. “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 said the protest is going to be nationwide and won’t stop until workers exploitation by the firm stops,adding that labour will continue to protest and resist casualisation of workers in their country which can’t be done in South Africa,Ghana and other countries where they operate despite Nigeria being where they make the huge profit from.
“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,”he added.
President of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and National treasurer of NLC, Comrade Khaleel Ibrahim said the anti-workers polices must stop and it is time all labour unions come together in unison to set the workers free.
He said the struggle will continue until MTN do the needful and stop its anti-labour practices.
Comrade Dele Kolade, Vice President, National Union of Postal and Telecommunication Employees, said since 2001 MTN had taken profit back to South Africa without paying pensioners’ gratuity.
He added that once a worker attained retirement age, MTN sacked such person without compensation.
He accused MTN of arrogance and displaying impunity, pointing out that graduates in MTN were treated as casual workers with no employment letters.
Postal and Telecommunications Employee (NUPTE) on Monday picketed MTN over non unionism.
Mr Olajuwon Olaide , the Chairman NUPTE Ibadan told journalists at the MTN office, off Ring Road, Ibadan, that the union was sealing all MTN offices in all the states in the country.
Olaide said the union had been in talks with MTN for over two years to allow its members of staff to participate in unionism.
“MTN has been countering our decisions, which haven’t been favourable to both the union and the members of staff.
“In South Africa where they came from, their staff are participating in unionism but they are not allowing that in Nigeria.
“They are taking us for granted here in Nigeria and that has to stop. There should be equal right for all across the globe.
“This picketing is taking place across all the states where MTN offices are located and the sealing off is going on simultaneously, ” he said.
Olaide said that in June, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Com. Ayuba Wabba visited MTN South Africa over the issue and he was mobbed. “Comrade Wabba was disregarded over the issue and now we are taking the necessary action to correct all wrongs, ” he said.
On picketing other organisations defaulting, Olaide said that plans were underway to ensure that they were dealt with accordingly.
“The focus is not just on MTN but for all offenders and it is one step at a time. We will eventually get them all,” he said.
In Bauchi, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) , picketed the telecommunication giant, MTN Nigeria offices in the state
, over anti-labour practices.
Comrade Hashimu Gital, Chairman, NLC), Bauchi State, who led the picketing, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the action was to advance issues of decent work and better conditions of service for workers.
“Every worker is entitled to better working conditions,” he said, accusing the telecommunication company of regularly renewing employment contract with its workers as a way of shying away from the respiratory similitude of paying gratuity and pension to them.
“We are giving them three days as warning, as directed by the National office of the NLC in Abuja,’’ he said.
According to him, the company, at every three months, sacks its workers and give them a new contract.
“This is not acceptable. Our laws do not accept that, and those workers need to be liberated. We need to tell them that they need to respect the laws of the country; they need to also respect our own labour laws, but most importantly, they must respect human and trade union rights.
“Workers have dignity, workers are not slaves and therefore, all workers must be treated with the best of attention.
“Injury to the workers at MTN is an injury to all Nigerian workers,’’ Gital said. All efforts to talk to MTN officials in Bauchi proved abortive, as those met said they were not allowed to talk on any issue pertaining the company.
“It is only corporate headquarters, Abuja, that is supposed to talk,’’ said one of them.