Again NLC bickers with MTN — Daily Times Nigeria Press "Enter" to skip to content

Again NLC bickers with MTN

…says coy flaunt labours, laws suffocate Nigeria workers
Leadership of the Nigeria Labour congress (NLC), has said it will do everything possible to ensure that all companies operating within the shore of the country obey the existing labour laws.

The NLC said this has become necessary owing to the level of impunity foreign companies disrespect labour laws in Nigeria.

The president of NLC comrade Ayuba Waba in a press statement, Tuesday, stated that the MTN since it commenced operations in Nigeria, has been in clear violation of extant national and international labour laws, especially ILO Conventions 87 and 98 has denied its workers their fundamental rights at work which Nigeria ratified since 1960.

According to Waba, the communication company, similarly engages in other anti-labour practices such as casualization for nearly all types of work, fixed- term contract work for Nigerian workers, worst forms of precarious work.

“It is on record that the Nigeria Labour Congress on several occasions protested to the MTN and government about these unwholesome practices without a reasonable response”.

Daily Times recall that October 7th last year during the World Decent Work Day marked a watershed in these protests as NLC briefly picketed their Maitama office, Abuja.

In response to this action of the Congress, MTN reached out to NECA (Nigerian Employers Consultative Association) 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 the Congress yielded no response either. Left with no other choice, the Congress served MTN notice of a picket in line with the provisions of the law. This action commenced across the country from Monday, July 9, to Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Ayuba Waba further clearing the air on the prevailing situation, said “in prosecuting this picket, our members were peaceful and orderly.

Contrary to insinuations by MTN, we destroyed neither property nor hurt anyone as that was not our objective.

We are responsible workers and we are alive to our duties and responsibilities.

Even when MTN sponsored members of a private security company (with which it works) to attack and injure some of our members, we resisted the temptation to respond in like manner as that would have taken us off the path of picket as well as provided our detractors the needed opportunity to truncate the exercise”

“The Falomo police took into custody one of the attackers and have in their possession an ID card of one of the assailants.

In our earlier statement, we had urged MTN to do the needful by giving to Nigerian workers their rights at work place including the right to freely associate, and hold an opinion as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution, the Labour Laws and Conventions 87 and 98 of the ILO instead of resorting to cheap blackmail”

“It is equally important to explain that Nigeria is the only country MTN refuses to allow workers to unionize and collectively bargain.

In South Africa from where the company comes, workers are unionized.

Indeed, our counterparts in South Africa are worried that we have allowed this matter to linger on for so long as MTN may choose to try to impose on them similar conditions of work.

Similarly, in Ghana, workers are unionized as in indeed every other country MTN carries on business.

It is important to point out that MTN makes over 60 per cent of its global money in Nigeria. It is one of the reasons we are appalled they are inherently disdainful of our laws and people.

We make bold to say that it’s unfriendly/unlawful policies-cum-acts of impunity are not entirely new.

We find it necessary to recall that it was the same MTN in clear breach of national security that imperiled the lives of our security personnel in the Northeast over which it was fined. It is ironical that it is the same MTN and its collaborators/ business partners who are now expressing security concerns over our harmless and peaceful picket”.

Waba, while buttressing its points, stated that the Report of the Inter-Ministerial Committee set up by the Ministry of Communications in 2017 to investigate Allegations of Breach of Local Content and Labour Laws by some ICT Companies,

following complaints by Nigerians, media reports and opinions, and allegations of tax Invasion, abuse of expatriate quota, laying off of Nigerian employees and replacing them with foreigners, dissuading unionization, muzzling of complaints from staff and shipping out Nigerian jobs through off-shoring.

He said that MTN often times had violated Guidelines for Nigerian Content Development in ICT issued by NITDA under the NITDA Act 2007, which came into effect in 2013,“require the companies to ‘provide a local content development plan for the creation of jobs, recruitment of local engineers, human capital development and value creation for the local ecosystem’.

In addition, the Guidelines according to him, require the multinational Telecom companies to ‘use local/indigenous companies to build out cell sites, towers and base stations and ensure that at least 50% of the value of such sites, towers and stations are locally sourced’.

“In section 8 the Guidelines provide that the companies ‘use Nigerian companies for the provision of at least 60% of all Value Added Services on their network within the first two years of operation or within the first two years of the coming into effect of these guidelines and 80% within three years of the coming into effect of these guidelines.

They must also ensure that such companies are creating at least 50% of the value of services provided locally’.

“Further the guidelines prescribe in Section 12(1)(4), that all subscriber and consumer data must be hosted locally within Nigeria”.

The Committee adverted its mind to sanctions in the Act which state inter alia that “where a person or body corporate fails to comply with the guidelines and standards prescribed by the Agency (NITDA) in the discharge of its duties under this Act,

such person or body corporate commits an offence” which/who on conviction is liable to a fine of N200,000 or imprisonment for a term of one year or to both such fine or imprisonment for the first offence, and for a second and subsequent offences to a fine of N500,000 or to imprisonment for a term of 3 years or to both such fine and imprisonment.

“The Committee deliberated on determinants of breach of local content in the light of the definitions and clarifications in the guidelines and agreed that not submitting prescribed local content plan, abuse of expatriate quota, disengaging local staff to replace them with expatriates, unjustified shipping out of local jobs as well as hosting of subscribers data outside Nigeria could be construed to mean breach of local content guidelines.

“The Committee noted that none of the companies interacted with submitted any local content plan to NITDA for the creation of jobs, recruitment of local engineers, human capital development and value creation for the local ecosystem or to NITDA/NCC for their platforms and products as part of requirements for registration within Nigeria and pre-qualification for any project to be carried out with any MDA.

All the companies are this in breach of the local content Guidelines from that perspective.

Mean while, the NLC leadership says it found it curious that in spite of the flagrant violations, NCC has not thought it fit to apply sanctions as prescribed by law.

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