By Appolos Christian
The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) said that it would advise MTN Nigeria to consider preventive shutdown of network if the picketing of its offices and installations by the organised labour leads to damage to telecoms facilities.
ALTON Chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, said that the shutdown would be necessary to avoid damage to the network.
In a statement he issued in Lagos on Tuesday, Adebayo said that damage to telecom facilities would lead to disruption of critical national security and economic services which could expose citizens to danger.
He said: “We hereby strongly request government and its law enforcement agencies to intervene expeditiously, otherwise the association will advise its member to consider preventive shutdown.’’
Adebayo said that disruption of operations of MTN through the picketing by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) would lead to poor quality of services which would affect the country as a whole.
“Members of ALTON are law-abiding organisations who are committed to best practices in all areas including labour-related matters. Employees of our members are able to join or form associations and unions if they so desire.
“However, the practice is that membership of 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,” he said.
Meanwhile, the MTN office in the Maitama District of Abuja has been locked following the nationwide picketing of the company by the NLC.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent, who visited the office, said that it was locked with only policemen and other security personnel outside the gate.
A security man, who pleaded anonymity, said that there was a directive from the MTN headquarters in Lagos that all members of staff should not come to work until further notice.
“Maybe it is because of the protest by some people in our office in Lagos,” he said.
The NLC said that it picked MTN offices because its violation of extant national and international labour laws, especially ILO Conventions 87 and 98 which is against denial of workers’ fundamental principles of the rights at work.
NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wanna, in a statement yesterday, said that “July 10, marks the second day of the picketing of MTN offices nationwide by the Congress and its civil society allies
“This statement is intended to explain the reasons for this action as well as debunk the false information being fed the public by MTN that our members have been unruly in prosecuting this action which is intended to divert attention from the real issues,” he said.