Members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), have orchestrated attacks on offices of telecom giant MTN Nigeria, under the guise of nationwide picketing and drawing strong reactions from the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).
Some of the affected state offices include Bayelsa, Bauchi, Enugu, Lagos and others.
The officials of NLC, on Monday, July 9, 2018, came to picket the office of MTN Nigeria.
However, the protest turned violent and disorganized as members began destroying and vandalizing property within the company’s premises and injuring staff.
Reacting to the violence, President of ALTON, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo said in a statement, that the organization was very concerned.
“Employees of our members are able to join or form associations and unions if they so desire.
“However, the practice is that membership of any associations and unions are voluntary.
“In line with fundamental human rights regarding freedom of association as guaranteed by the constitution, individuals must not be compelled to join an association or union if they do not choose to do so.”
He said “Picketing of such nature as reported, leading to injury to persons and damage to properties, creates an unfortunate situation where employees are coerced to join unions and associations without respect for their individual rights of voluntary association.”
ALTON noted further that “Damage to any Telecom Facilities will lead to the disruption of critical national security and economic services which will expose innocent citizens to great danger.
“Attempts have been made to disrupt the network operations of some of our members through the shut down and vandalisation of critical network facilities.
“The implication of such disruption will lead to severe poor quality of services with attendant national security implications and far reaching implications on other services that are dependent on the telecommunications industry,” he said.
Adebayo also requested for government and law enforcement agencies to intervene while asking members of the association to consider “preventive shutdown” to avoid further damage to network facilities.
“We trust parties will respect each other’s constitutional rights in the interest of our nation Nigeria,” ALTON chairman observed.
In a statement issued by MTN Nigeria’s Corporate Relations Executive, Mr. Tobechukwu Okigbo, the telecom provider said, it was deeply saddened by the attacks.
“Today’s violence and the needless destruction of property are deeply saddening. As always our primary concern is the safety and well-being of our employees, some of whom were attacked by supposed NLC operatives and have sustained injuries”.
“We do not prevent our employees from associating amongst themselves as they deem fit and owe our employees the obligation to ensure they are not compelled to join associations.
“MTN supports the freedom of association as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
“All workers have rights that should be protected. We work hard to not only ensure that this is done but also to ensure that our company is a Great Place to Work.
“We will continue to champion our peoples’ rights, whether they are part of a union or not and work hard to minimise disruptions in service to our customers.”
President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, accused MTN of being the worst employer of labour as it has violated all labour laws in the country.
“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,” he said.
Wabba alleged that 80 per cent of workers on MTN’s payroll are casual labourers despite the company being the biggest telecommunication firm in Africa.
“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.