ORGANISED Labour and its civil society allies have sounded a note of warning to MTN and other private telecommunications operators (PTOs) in the country, to accept positive industrial relations practice or face the wrath of workers.
Leaders of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and their civil society allies, under the aegis of Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO), said they are already perfecting plans to confront MTN and other PTOs in the country over alleged unfair labour practices especially casualisation and refusal to allow their workers to freely join unions as enshrined in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 82, African Charter of Human Rights as well as Section 40 of the nation’s constitution.
This came as the management of one of the leading Cellular Data Mobile Access (CDMA) networks in the country, Multilink/Telkom, accepted that its workers and those of its contractors can join the union in the sector, the National Union of Postal and Telecommunications Employees (NUPTE).
This development was sequel to agreement reached between the management of the company and labour leaders after the Adeola Odeku head office of the firm and its branch on the same street were Thursday crippled by aggrieved workers.
Under the umbrella of NUPTE, in conjunction with National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Related Institutions as well as members of civil society allies of labour, the aggrieved workers, labour leaders and their civil society allies paralysed activities and sealed off the firm for over five hours.
However, after hours of deliberations, the management and representatives of the workers reached an agreement that “Multi-links/Telkom Management recognises the National Union of Postal and Telecommunications Employees as the bonafide union in the industry. Consequently, the branch union of NUPTE is hereby also recognised. That management remains willing to engage the Union on industrial relations matters. Both parties agree that no member of staff, particularly union officials, will be victimized.”
Displaying several placards with different inscriptions accusing the management of the South African company of besides casualisation of Nigerians and paying them peanuts, the picketers alleged that the management of the company refused to recognise the union and threatened to sack the executive of the branch union inaugurated few days ago.
They lamented that all efforts to have a peaceful industrial relation had always been frustrated by the management.
According to the President of NUPTE, Comrade Sunday Alhassan, “Multilinks/Telkom maintains the largest expatriate workforce in the industry in Nigeria relative to its size. It uses some of these expatriates in non-core areas that can be easily manned by abundant Nigerian talent.
Multilinks/Telkom does not respect its workers’ right to join the union and negotiate their terms and conditions of work. It runs a wicked campaign of work place terror on its staff, including a fake in-house forum in its Human Resource Department. Multilinks/Telkom continues to dismiss workers who dare to demand for respect of their rights.
Multilinks/Telkom does not remit the Pension Fund Administrator (PFA) deductions of its workers. It must tell the national pension commission and other stakeholders where it is hiding the March to September 2010 pension contributions deducted from some workers’ salaries and yet to be remitted to PFA in clear breach of the provisions of the Pension Act. While pampering its large expatriate staff with a generous paid-vacation plan that keeps them permanently on overseas junkets, Multilinks/Telkom keeps over 90 per cent of its Nigerian professional workforce in servitude through casual/temporary appointment without promotion, career and severance plan etc.
Addressing workers after the agreement, Comrade Alhassan sounded a note of warning to MTN and other PTOs that it was their own enlightened interest to embrace union and other positive industrial relations practices.
He said: “We are using this medium to sound a note of warning to MTN and other PTOs as well as courier companies that the time of unfair labour practices, refusal to allow union and casualisation of workers is gone. It is in their best interest to respect the law of the land and international best practices to avoid the wrath of Labour.”
Contributing, State Secretary of NLC, Comrade Ismail Bello, said LASCO was already perfecting strategies to confront the PTOs “who are enslaving Nigerian workers, refusing them to freely associate as enshrined in ILO Convention 82 and Section 40 of Nigerian Constitution. We are going to hit them soon because they cannot come here to disobey our law and dehumanise of citizens.”