Faced with a nationwide picketing by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over alleged anti-workers’ practices, the management of MTN has accused organised labour of breaching the rules of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Through its Corporate Relations Executive, Mr. Tobechukwu Okigbo, MTN said that the picketing of its offices and assets by the NLC violated ILO rules because violence and force were adopted..
In a statement he issued on Thursday in Lagos, Okigbo said that the picketing was characterised by violence.
He said: “The destruction of MTN assets, violence and threats violated an important section of the ILO ethics of which the NLC is a member.
“Founded in 1919, the ILO’s main goal is to bring together governments, employers and workers of its member states to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.
“Under the ILO principles concerning the right to strike, Section 8.1 which focuses on picketing clearly states: Taking part in picketing and firmly but peacefully inciting other workers to keep away from their workplace cannot be considered unlawful.
“The case is different, however, when picketing is accompanied by violence or coercion of non-strikers in an attempt to interfere with their freedom to work; such acts constitute criminal offences in many countries.
“The requirement that strike pickets can only be set up near an enterprise does not infringe the principles of freedom of association (ibid. paras. 586 and 587),” he said.
Okigbo reiterated MTN’s position on unionising and said that telecom company would not prevent its employees from associating among themselves as they deem fit and owe its employees the obligation to ensure they were not compelled to join associations.
He continued: “MTN supports the freedom of association as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended). All workers have rights that should be protected. We work hard to not only ensure that this is done but also to ensure that our company is a great place to work.
“We will continue to champion our peoples’ rights, whether they are part of a union or not and work hard to minimise disruptions in service to our customers,’’ Okigbo said.
NLC’s President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, however, denied the allegation that the congress destroyed MTN property while picketing the multinational company’s offices across the country.
“We do not intend to do so, as that is not our objective. We are clear about our objectives, and we shall not allow anything to distract us.
“We are responsible workers and alive to our responsibilities,’’ he told journalists in Lagos.
Wabba said that NLC had been peaceful and orderly in the picketing. (NAN)