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Telecom workers picket MTN office, demand better welfare for Nigerian workers

Telecom workers picket MTN office, demand better welfare for Nigerian workers
July 20
17:46 2022

The Private Telecommunications and Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PTECSSAN) says it will embark on industrial action over the refusal of MTN Nigeria to “meet workers’ legitimate demands”. 

The workers said this in a statement jointly signed by Opeyemi Tomori, president and Okonu Abdullahi, general secretary of the association.

In February, the union issued a 14-day ultimatum to the telco giant to address welfare issues.

They accused MTN of discriminatory remuneration and inhumane retirement benefits for Nigerian workers.

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But Esther Akinnukawe, chief human resources officer, MTN Nigeria, had said its workers’ welfare is of utmost priority.

While disrupting activities at the company’s headquarters on Wednesday, the union asked MTN to yield to the “legitimate demands of its employees”.

“We have severally resisted the temptation of embarking on any form of industrial action, until today, against the interests of MTN Nigeria PLC owing to a series of interventions by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Federal Bureau of Investigation of the Nigeria Police Force and the Department of State Services. But with the bigger-than-life attitude of the company we were left with no option other than to embark on this action,” the statement reads.

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“We have come to the realisation that without persistent industrial actions, just like it was the case before it agreed and permitted its staff to fulfil their right to freedom of association, MTN would not yield to the legitimate demands of its employees as put forward by the Union.”

According to the union, the issues include the resistance of workers’ rights to freedom of association, right to organise and collective bargaining.

It also alleged that MTN introduced a performance implementation plan “that is not only unclear to the employees but a ruse to victimise them”.

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“Despite generating at least, a third of Nigeria’s national budget, MTN sees payment of befitting exit benefits as taboo,” PTECSSAN said.

“MTN pays exit packages to its management staff but refused to do the same to the lower cadre. All exited/sacked management staff have all been paid humongous exit packages but frown at the lower cadre mentioning it. Meanwhile, MTN prides itself as an IIP investor in people-certified.

“The management staff enjoy $15,000 as lifestyle benefit yearly but cannot do, no matter how little, for the lower cadre.

“MTN pays school fees for the kids of all its management staff but cannot have it mentioned by the lower cadre.

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“MTN gives generators and fuel to power them for management staff and will not have issues about inflation and fuel price increase but will not want it mentioned by the union.

“MTN pays 80% of the management take home as a bonus, while the lower cadre is given only 20%.

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“Despite all, MTN seems to have done for its workforce including the execs, the total staff cost to revenue is barely 3.5% which is so low compared to other organisations and banks in Nigeria who are doing well above 6-9%.”

It added that “75% of N48 billion paid last year as remuneration went to the pockets of management while the grinders (majority of the staff) shared the remaining 25%”. 

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It further asked MTN Nigeria to sign the collective bargaining agreement with the union.

The union also demanded “immediate recognition of other levels of workers’, not currently organised, to freedom of association”.

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Some other demands it made include “the withdrawal of all forms of threats to its members” and immediate stoppage of all “obnoxious policies that threaten the existence of the union in the company”. 

It added that MTN must “recognise the union as the sole negotiating body for workers in the company”.

PTECSSAN said if the company refuses to agree with its demands, it would “continue, unabatedly, to carry out industrial actions against her until she meets our demands”.

A source in MTN who pleaded anonymity told TheCable that the company does not pay exit packages for willful resignation by its staff.

“It not true that MTN pays exit packages to senior management staff,” the source said.

On other agitations, he added that MTN filed a trade union dispute with Chris Ngige, minister and the matter “has not been decided fully”.

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