Following the siege on the facilities of telecommunication firm, MTN Nigeria by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), an umbrella body for private telecom operators have issued a statement warning of impending service disruption if the federal government does not intervene in the imbroglio.
The NLC had earlier today picketed MTN offices in some states of the country over issues bordering on unionism and alleged staff casualisation in the company.
The statement from ALTON, signed by its Chairman, Engineer Gbenga Adebayo, noted that Members of the Association 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.”
He noted that ALTON is very concerned about this unfortunate development, which may lead to disruption in telecom services across the country.
“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.”
Engr. Adebayo further alleged that attempts have been made to disrupt the network operations of some of ALTON’s members through the shutdown and vandalisation of critical network facilities. The implication of such disruption, he said, 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.
While requesting that the government and law enforcement agencies intervene in the matter to forestall preventive shut down order by ALTON on its members, as a means of avoiding further damage to network facilities, the Association’s Chairman pointed out that in compliance 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, rather the practice is that membership of any associations and unions are voluntary.
He implored all parties to respect each other’s constitutional rights in the interest of the nation.