Indications have emerged that operations of telecom company, MTN Nigeria, could be under threat over continuous picketing of its offices across the country by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
Already, reports indicate that the company’s subscribers across some parts of the country, especially Lagos have been experiencing poor connections, with difficulties, especially with data connections.
On Monday, NLC members protested at MTN offices in Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Abia and Bayelsa over alleged exploitation of workers in the company.
The Deputy President of the National Union of Postal and Telecommunications Employee (NUPTE) while addressing journalists in Abuja said the union would continue to picket MTN until its demands are met.
According to him, the telecom company has been engaged in giving workers contract appointment as almost all its workers are on three to six months contract appointments, adding that the workers are not permitted to participate in union activities.
NLC Chairman, Kano chapter, Kabiru Ado Minjibir, said the company is operating against standards set by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) treaty.
“About 80% of the staff are casuals and they are not allowed to unionise, which is against the International Labour Organisation (ILO) treaty,” Minjibir said.
He said the NLC would not fold its arms and allow enslavement of Nigerian citizens with actions that contravenes the law.
The continuous picketing of MTN’s offices nationwide led to the closure of its Maitama office in Abuja on Tuesday.
It was gathered that the office was locked leaving officials of Nigerian security agencies outside the office to forestall breakdown of law and order.
The shutting down of the Abuja office followed the blocking of the Head Office of the company in Lagos on Monday for several hours by NLC union members led by the congress’ Chairman, Ayuba Wabba, a development which prevented workers from accessing their offices to carry out their daily duties.
A source, who pleaded anonymity, hinted that there was a directive from the company’s Headquarters instructing its workers not to come to work until further notice.
Meanwhile, the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators in Nigeria (ALTON), the umbrella body of the telecom operators in the country has threatened that it would advise its members to consider preventive shut down to avoid further damage of network facilities.
ALTON in a statement said damage to any telecom facilities would lead to the disruption of critical national security and economic services which would expose innocent citizens to great danger.
MTN had said all efforts it made to have an amicable resolution with the trade union were futile leading to the union disrupting its operations and damaging its properties.
“The protest became violent and disorganized in different locations as properties within MTN premises were vandalized. Doors and gates were destroyed and alleged officials of NLC breached the fences and forced their way into the premises.
“In Ikoyi (the company’s headquarters), MTN flag was lowered and the NLC flag was hoisted in its place. Numerous staff of the company were injured in the process of the protests and many assumed the roles of human shields over their colleagues, protecting them from the angry protesters,” it said.
By Oluwasegun Olakoyenikan
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