The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Oyo State Chapter, on Monday, shut down the operations at all the offices of telecommunication giant, MTN across Ibadan, the Oyo state capital over the allegation that the company over the years refused to allow its members of staff unionise.
The nationwide action, the group said it became inevitable owing to continuous noncompliance of MTN to its calls for adherence to conventions of the International Labour Organisation which demands that workers be members of a union.
Oyo State NLC Chairman, Mr Waheed Olojede, who was accompanied by his counterpart from the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Emmanuel Ogundiran, expressed optimism that MTN will within the next three days, sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), to the effect that the organisation will inaugurate leadership of their union.
During the Monday exercise, The Nation reports that MTN offices in areas like Idi Ape, Mobil and Secretariat were among those picketed, with Olojede assuring that more operational offices of the telecommunications company will be visited today (Tuesday).
Speaking on why the labour union decided on MTN among other telecommunication companies, Olojede explained that the State chapter only complied with the directive of its national leadership.
He warned that other telecom companies may be picketed next week if the needful is not done.
Olojede said, “By the directive of the Central Working Committee of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), we are here to say no to the anti-labour practices of MTN in Nigeria. Over the years, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has engaged the management in negotiations, consultations on the need to allow workers under the employ of MTN to unionise.
“Unionization within establishment is internationally accepted. It is captured by the conventions of the International Labour Organisation. Here in Nigeria, the laws of the federal republic of Nigeria, Article 30 allows it. The constitution also allows for freedom of association. It worries NLC as to why MTN is not allowing its workers to unionise.
“When all negotiations between the management of MTN and the leadership of NLC is not producing the desired result, hence the need for this action. The meeting in Kaduna decided to employ legal instrument of picketing and lockout to tell the management of MTN in Nigeria that their actions are illegal, anti-labour and uncivilized.
“Within three days, MTN is expected to enter a Memorandum of Understanding with the NLC in ensuring that unionization is allowed. It is a three day action nationwide. Once they sign an agreement and we see those organizations inaugurating leadership of their union, we will suppress action.
“One thing some employers of labour do not know so well is that peace, decorum and tranquility resides in an environment where you have industrial union. This is an opportunity for the two key parties to negotiate dialogue and create industrial peace and harmony. Almost all telecom companies are guilty of this offence. But MTN being the largest of them all, they are the first we are picketing and the instruction is narrowed down to MTN.
“I believe the Central Working Committee of the NLC will decide the next line of action concerning other telecommunication companies. I am sure this action is sending signals to other telecommunication companies that their practices are illegal and the labour movement will not stand akimbo to watch all these actions continue unabated,” Olojede said.