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Confusion in Lagos, others as NLC pickets MTN offices, destroys wall, hoists flag

Nationwide picketing of leading telecom giant, MTN Nigeria by members of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) over what they described as anti-labour practices have attracted strong reactions from the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) today, Monday, July 09, 2018.

Some of the state offices affected by the violence include Bayelsa, Bauchi, Enugu, Lagos and others.

In a terse statement issued few minutes ago, ALTON President, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo decried the wanton destruction, the way and manner of the needlessly coordinated attacks in what he described as critical national infrastructure.

He stated that “ALTON is very concerned about this unfortunate development,” stressing that “Members of ALTON are law-abiding organizations who are committed to best practices in all areas including labour related matters. As responsible corporate citizens, our members have always provided platforms for their employees to associate freely in accordance with the law and the constitution”.

Adebayo averred that “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”.

“We hereby strongly request government and its law enforcement agencies to intervene expeditiously, otherwise we will advise our members to consider preventive shut down in order 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.

Besides, in a statement issued by MTN’s Corporate Relations Executive, Mr. Tobechukwu Okigbo, the telecom giant said “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.”

A competent source at the Falomo Lagos head office confided on Business Hilights on phone that “They pulled down our flag and hoisted NLC flag in our offices in an invasion and conquest kind of thing”.