There is a strong indication that if the picketing of its companies by the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, continues, telecom company, MTN Nigeria may shut down its network. This undoubtedly will have untold consequences on the economy as millions of Nigerian subscribers and other telecom service providers connected to its network will be down and out.
The umbrella body of the telecom operators in Nigeria, the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators in Nigeria, ALTON has threatened that it would advise its members to consider preventive shut down in order to avoid further damage to network facilities, if nothing is done to checkmate the situation.
In a release signed by the Chairman of the association Engr Gbenga Adebayo,
“News of the picketing of the offices and disruption of operations of one of our members has been brought to our attention. ALTON is very concerned about this unfortunate development. 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. 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 is 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.
“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. 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”.
MTN said on Monday that all efforts it made to have an amicable resolution with the trade union were futile leading to the union disrupting its operations and damaging its properties. Corporate Relations Executive of MTN Nigeria, Tobechukwu Okigbo said:
“On Monday July 9, 2018, officials of the labour congress were at the MTN offices to picket, but MTN in its civil manner, invited the officials into the headquarters in Ikoyi, Lagos, in order to reach unified decisions and prevent any form of violence or incivility.
“However, the protest became violent and disorganized in different locations as properties within MTN premises were vandalized. Doors and gates were destroyed and alleged officials of NLC breached the fences and forced their way into the premises. In Ikoyi, MTN flag was lowered and the NLC flag was hoisted in its place. Numerous staff of the company were injured in the process of the protests and many assumed the roles of human shields over their colleagues, protecting them from the angry protesters.
“Today’s violence and the needless destruction of property is 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.”