Business Hilights
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MTN denies NLC claims, says it does not coerce employees, hails concerns but…

As the week rolls by, the management of MTN Nigeria has noted that “The events of this week have been difficult and disruptive. However, this has in no way impacted our continued commitment to our people, our customers and this great nation. All of us at MTN want to express our sincere gratitude to you for standing by us during this challenging time”.

Business Hilights recalls that the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), had on Monday this week, laid a nationwide siege on MTN formations on grounds picketing to protect what it described as anti-labour practices.

However, the telecom giant averred that “We consider the rights of all our employees to be paramount and have consistently ensured that these rights are protected. This includes the fundamental human right to freedom of association as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.

“Our ethos is not to coerce our employees to do anything against their will. We have no objections to our employees forming a collective, through a union, or choosing not to do so. In fact, MTN has an Employee Council made up of officers below Management cadre. Council members are democratically-elected representatives who ensure that labour-related issues are addressed.

“We do not engage in casualization. All our employees have full-time employment contracts. To enable our organisation to focus on delivering our core services and in alignment with global best practice, we engage licensed specialised service providers to support our operations.

“We provide working conditions in line with international best practice. All employees earn well above minimum wage. They have access to a minimum of 20 paid leave days annually; flexible working hours; 4 months paid maternity leave; fully funded pensions; staff buses; mortgage subsidies and group medical cover with international emergency evacuation for employees and their immediate dependants. These are just some of the benefits that contribute to making MTN a great place to work.

MTN also noted that “Over the years, we have engaged productively with representatives of Labour Unions who reached out, holding numerous extensive meetings. We will continue to do so, pursuing amicable resolutions in our negotiations with organised labour.

The safety and welfare of our employees will remain our primary concern during these discussions. Given ongoing interventions by various stakeholders – ALTON, ATCON, NCC and the security agencies, we trust that there will be no further protests, aggression, attacks on our employees or damage to the network and property. Most of all, we expect that our employees’ rights to associate freely and without coercion will be respected”.

The company made it clear in a statement weekend that “Connectivity plays a crucial role in your ability to run businesses, stay connected to family and attend to daily priorities. We understand this and assure you that we will continue to work hard to give you the uninterrupted service you deserve”.

MTN NLC Picketing
Scene of the rampaging NLC officials picketing MTN head office in Lagos recently. Photo: Business Hilights

However, to make its action legitimate, NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, in a statement argued that all its efforts and those brokered by the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) ahead of time to address the issues of unfriendly Labour practices and disallowing its workers to unionize failed as the company fail to return to the negotiating table.

NLC said even though the company makes 60 percent of its profit from Nigeria, it is only in Nigeria that MTN workers are not unionised and are subjected to casualisation in total violation of the Labour laws in the country and the ILO conventions.

The statement reads: “Today, Tuesday, July 10, marks the second day of the picketing of MTN offices nationwide by the Nigeria Labour Congress and its civil society allies. This press statement is intended to explain the reasons for this action as well as debunk the false information being fed to the public by MTN that our members have been unruly in prosecuting this action which is intended to divert attention from the real issues.

“MTN Nigeria, since it commenced operations in Nigeria and in clear violation of extant national and international labour laws, especially ILO Conventions 87 and 98 has denied its workers the fundamental principles of the rights at work.

“It similarly indulges in other anti-labour practices such as casualisation for nearly all types of work, fixed- term contract work for Nigerian workers, worst forms of precarious work, etc.

“It is on record that the Nigeria Labour Congress, on several occasions protested to the MTN and government about these unwholesome practices.

The World Decent Work Day marked on October 7th last year marked a watershed in these protests as NLC briefly picketed their Maitama office in Abuja.

“In response to this action of NLC, MTN reached out to Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA) which brokered a meeting. However, due to inexplicable reasons, MTN opted out of the negotiations to the chagrin and embarrassment of NECA.

“Thereafter every effort by NECA and NLC to get MTN to the negotiating table failed. Frustrated, NECA pulled out of the negotiations. Subsequent efforts by NLC yielded no response either. Left with no other choice, NLC served MTN notice of a picket in line with the provisions of the law. This action commenced across the country on Monday, July 9, 2018.