President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba has said the movement picketed the corporate headquarters of a telecommunication giant, MTN and the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) as a result of inhuman treatment of workers in the two companies.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba who said the congress action coincided with the International Day for decent work, said casualisation of workers by multinationals and other indigenous companies is a crime against humanity and will be resisted by labour.
He said in the case of MTN Nigeria, contrary to their refusing unionisation, it’s counterpart in South Africa, Kenya and Ghana are unionised and have better working condition.
“We have received several complaints from our counterparts in congress of South African trade unions in Soweto, because they wanted to import the same conditions of service in South Africa where the company is located. In South Africa, MTN workers are unionized all by the congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU), their affiliates from the telecommunication sector.
“Same with the one in Kenya and that of Ghana, our question is why should the MTN workers in Nigeria be the people that will be treated worse? so this campaign today is a global strategy endorsed by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) all over the world that we must stand up for MTN Nigeria workers and they must have their rights, they must also have a condition of service that is commensurate with MTN workers in South Africa, in Kenya and the other parts of the world. Why should they be a difference between the condition of MTN workers here in Nigeria and what obtains elsewhere around the world”.
He said labour would come back to picket MTN outlets nationwide if these issues were not tackled.
”We have tried to engage the management here, and we have mutually agreed that a process of dialogue to discuss this issue and also to discuss the issue of MTN workers in Nigeria in general will take place and that they are going to revert back to us in the next one week and then the process of dialogue with the whole idea of making sure that Nigeria MTN workers should not be second class workers when compared to other MTN workers around the world.
“We must insist that they must continue to work in dignity, they must continue to work in honour and therefore, they are not slaves. We have told them very clear that the corporate headquarters is in Lagos and so this is a starting point and we will be ready in the near future if this issue is not addressed, to actually picket MTN offices all over Nigeria because we have done that in the past and we thought that MTN workers deserve a better deal.
“If we need a revisit, certainly we will be here, if we need further step to expand the scope of coverage of this action we will do it. If we are going to need the support of our other counterparts from Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, ITUC global will give us a signal and we will do a global campaign to actually address the issue”.
Wabba who led the picketing, earlier at the corporate Headquarters of AEPB, gave the management of the one month to address the anti labour practices, or the congress will return to picket the organisation.
The NLC boss lamented the harsh condition at which workers operate in the organisation, stressing that often some of them were knocked down by vehicles without compensation.
Also speaking, president of National Association of Postal and Telecommunication Employees (NUPTE), Comrade Sunday Alhassan disclosed that MTN Nigeria management sack about 280 Nigerians three months ago.
“Three months ago, they sacked 280 workers who have worked with them since 2001 that their knowledge has become obsolete, the people who built this organisation to this level were staffs and none of them were outsourced.
Where we are standing today I believe there is non of the Southern African MTN management, it is out sourced to an individual who is a Nigerian and this Nigerian has not allowed these workers to belong to any industrial union.
“Some of them their take home pay is not equivalent to the certificate they came here to get a job. Majority of them are university graduates but they are getting paid as casual workers, they don’t have employment letters.
“Some of them their employment letters is not that of the MTN but that of an individual and when they pass MTN will tell you these are not our workers these are the things they have been passing through.
Whether you are MTN or not these workers have a right to belong to a union”.