PRESS STATEMENT

PRESS STATEMENT

9TH JUNE, 2021

 

PRECARIOUS WORKING CONDITIONS AND GROSS DISREGARD FOR LAWS AND INSTITUTIONS OF NIGERIA BY EMPLOYERS IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS SECTOR: A DECLARATION OF 3-DAY WARNING STRIKE EFFECTIVE WEDNESDAY 16TH JUNE, 2021

This is announcing to the world that our Union shall be embarking on a 3-day warning strike in the telecommunications and communications sector in Nigeria starting from 12 Midnight on Wednesday 16th June, 2021. This decision was taken at the emergency National Administrative Council (NAC) meeting held on 7th June, 2021 and further sanctioned by National Executive Council (NEC) at its meeting of the Union held on 8th June, 2021. In line with the directives of both the NAC and the NEC the Union has perfected plans to mobilise workers in the industry to embark on the strike accordingly.

This strike has become inevitable because of growing precarious working conditions in the sector and gross disregard for our laws and its institutions. This is the 21st Century, workers in the sector are still being treated like slaves even though slavery has long been abolished all over the world.

We have made series of efforts in the past, including but not limited to escalating the issues to the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and the House Committee on Communications, yet, these employers believe they are bigger than the nation and would not respect our institutions.

Some of the anti-labour practices in the sector are as follows:

  1. BREACH OF FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION AND RIGHT TO ORGANISE

Unionization of workers in the sector, most especially among the vendors, seems to be a taboo as they ensure the workers are barred from freely joining the Union as against every known Conventions of ILO, Nigeria’s Constitution, and the Trade Unions Act.

We have instances whereby employees that indicated interests in joining the Union were sacked. Huawei Technologies Nigeria Limited is notorious for sacking any employee who shows interest in joining the Union. In recent time, where Ministry of Labour intervened the Deputy Managing Director assured reinstatement of the sacked members of the Union. Several weeks after, the sacked employees are yet to be reinstated.

ATC is another company that has resisted Unionization of its employees despite interventions of Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Lagos. In the presence of the officers in the Ministry one of the lawyers that came with the employers asserted that never would the Union ever be allowed to organize the workers.

  1. VICTIMISATION OF UNION MEMBERS

In some companies where the Union was able to organize the workers the employers have embraced culture of victimizing union members in order to dissuade them from membership of the Union.

NOKIA is a good example of a company doing everything possible to rid the company of the Union. This it does by rewarding non-Union members for choosing not to belong to the Union. This can be seen in its decision to monetise excess leave days and add same to the salary of Non-Union members while Union members were to be left empty handed. Meanwhile, every negotiated benefit of the Union for its members are extended to those that chose not to be members of the Union.

  1. POOR AND DISCRIMINATORY REMUNERATION

There seems not to be any company within the sector that is not culpable on this issue which is against Equal Remuneration Convention (100). There are examples of workers earning, even, more than their superiors. This act is carefully shielded by Confidentiality Policy adopted by these employers.

  1. INCREASING SPATE OF PRECARIOUS WORK

Casualization of work has become the order of the day in telecoms sector. This is prevalent among field engineers and technicians. Many are given monthly contract of employment, while many others tri-monthly up to 6 months and others yearly contract. For any of these contract terms renewals are not made as at when due.

We experience multiple layers of employers now in the sector such that to differentiate among them is a difficult task. For example, Huawei Technologies alone uses more than twenty-five pseudo companies in its operations in Nigeria alone.

  1. 24 HOURS WORK

This is peculiar to vendors in the sector. Their field engineers have 24 hours as their work hours. They are called upon to work, even, at wee hours of the night despite high spate of insecurity in the country. Several of them have been attacked and injured without their employers bearing the cost of treatment. Notwithstanding, risks involved in attending to work at nights employers in the sector have yet to made provision for security of these workers. This is most common to Huawei operations in Nigeria.

  1. ABSENCE OF EXIT PACKAGE

Majority of the employers do not pay severance benefits to their employees when they are leaving the employments irrespective of the number of years spent.

  1. NO HAZARD ALLOWANCE

Workers in the sector, especially the field engineers, are exposed to series of work hazards, like long time exposure to dangerous levels of Microwave, which have negative impacts on their health. Employers must as a matter of urgency commence payment of hazard allowance to the concerned workers in the sector.

  1. DISREGARD FOR OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

Safety equipment are often not made available to workers on the field. This exposes them more to different forms of hazard at work. Working at nights have exposed lots of them to series of attacks, as earlier mentioned, including kidnapping.

  1. RESTRICTIVE CAREER PATH

Several of the companies in the sector have no structures in place to ensure steady growth of employees in their organisations. Employees that are diligent spend several numbers of years on the same positions without deserved and due promotion.

  1. EXPATRIATES QUOTA POLICY INFRACTIONS

Expatriates quota policy in the country allows companies to employ expatriates to work in the country ONLY when the skills needed for the projects are lacking among Nigerians and when the expatriates are brought in each of them are expected to be attached four Nigerian employees to understudy them for the purpose of transferring the knowledge unto the attached locals. In many of the companies, including the ones owned by Nigerians, there are numerous foreigners working in the country that have no Nigerian understudying them. The peak of this breach is seen in NOKIA where Nigerians are sacked, and they are replaced by foreigners.

  1. UNJUST SEVERANCE OF UNION EXECUTIVES

Employers want to make it fashionable to be getting rid of Union executives under feeble and cooked up reasons to weaken the Union and, ultimately, destroy the Union in their companies. We have seen this panned out in HUAWEI, NOKIA and ZTE and we say enough is enough. We shall no longer allow that to happen ever again. Those that have been sacked must be recalled forthwith.

  1. GROSS DISREGARD FOR THE LAWS AND INSTITUTIONS OF GOVERNMENT IN NIGERIA

Our Labour laws are being flagrantly flouted by companies in the sector, just the same way they are disregarding the institutions of government in the country. Probationary period in our law is three months in the first instance and another 3 months in second and the last when an employee on probation is unable to meet up with expectations on the new job. Several employers place on probation workers for longer period of months spanning more than 12months.

Also, Ministry of Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, the supervising Ministry in charge of labour and employment has been reduced to nothing as employers disregard its verdicts at conciliation and carry out what please them.

A good example is the case of NOKIA whose reason for placing an executive member of the Union on redundancy was faulted and ordered to withdraw the redundancy placed on him. Rather than abide by the verdict or better still appeal same it went ahead to sever the employment of the Union officer. Also, NOKIA was directed to pay its former Alcatel Lucent staff off, their merger and acquisition benefits because of their transfer to NOKIA. The same way the company called the bluff of the Ministry of Labour and Employment on the issue of the Union officer so it chose to call the bluff of the Ministry on the payment.

In the light of the above issues and others not captured our Union demands as follows:

  1. That HUAWEI Technologies Nigeria Limited, ATC, 9Mobile, Globacom, Smile, IHS, AIRTEL, IPNX Nigeria, SPECTRANET, MAINONE, ntel, Swift and others whose employees have not yet been Unionised should respect the right of the workers to freely associate with the Union. A communication duly signed by an authorized management staff from all these companies should be sent to the workers with assurances that they would not be victimized, harassed or even sacked as a result of their membership of the Union.
  2. Immediate recall of the severed officer in NOKIA and other workers sacked in Huawei Technologies Nigeria Limited.
  3. Immediate withdrawal of warning letters and threats issued to the leaders of the workers in Huawei Technologies.
  4. Immediate commencement of discussion and negotiation of Procedural Agreement and Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Union for the workers in Huawei Technologies and other companies in the sector.
  5. Immediate regularization of employment of all the casual workers in the sector. We outrightly reject casualization of workers in the sector under any form of guise be it sub-contracting or outsourcing.
  6. A stop to continued abuse of expatriate quota policy in the Sector.
  7. Immediate provision of PPE for the field engineers and ensuring occupational health and safety measures are put in place for the generality of workers in the sector.
  8. That all the companies in the sectors stop forthwith arbitrary sack of workers in the sector. Telecoms sector is the only sector that is immune to Covid-19 fall outs, hence, we do not see any reason for workers to be losing their jobs.
  9. That the multi-nationals in the sector abide with our laws and institutions else, they should leave this country or face dire consequences of their breach.
  10. That all employers in the sector remedy the issues raised above

If our demands are not met on or before Monday 15th June, 2021 we shall be going ahead with the initial 3-day warning industrial action.

We seize this opportunity to call on all workers in the sector to co-operate with us as we commence the move towards sanitizing our beloved sector. We assure them that it shall no longer be business as usual in the sector.

To Nigerians, we would like to let them know that we regret the unfortunate consequences that our impending but inevitable action will cause them. We plead for understanding and urge them to bear with us.

 

Signed

Com. Opeyemi Tomori                                                      Com. Okonu Abdullahi

PTECSSAN President                                                        PTECSSAN General Secretary

 

 

Press Conference on Huawei Technologies

TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE OF THE PRIVATE TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS SENIOR STAFFF ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA(PTECSSAN) HELD AT HER NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS, 23, AMORE STREET, OFF TOYIN STREET, IKEJA, LAGOS ON THURSDAY 25TH, 2021

Protocols!

We are happy to have you and humbly welcome you to this Press Conference.

We have invited you here to let the world know about the unfortunate events and practices going on in Huawei Technologies Nigeria Limited which shall lead to industrial disharmony and disruption of her services if not quickly arrested and mediated.

All our efforts in the past to address all the labour related issues confronting the workers in the company have been rebuffed by its management. Ultimate of which is gross disregard and denial of the workers their fundamental Right to Freedom of Association as enshrined in Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as Section 12(4) of the Trade Unions Act LFN 2004 and ILO Conventions 87 and 98.  Therefore, we shall be letting the management know that there will be consequences to industrial peace within the company if our demands are not met within 14 Days from this day.

Gentlemen of the Press, the issues among others are as follows:

  1. INTIMIDATION, HARASSMENT AND VERBAL ASSAULTS

It has become hallmark of the company to make workers perform their duties under duress. They are intimidated, harassed, and even threatened with sack at every slight opportunity. The use of foul languages on the workers is also prevalent in the organisation.

  1. POOR AND DISCRIMINATORY REMUNERATION

Workers in the company are the least paid among vendors in the telecommunications sector. Also, pays are discriminatory with some workers paid more than others. The closer you are to the top Chinese Management or politically inclined individuals whose influence got you into the company the higher your pay will be.

  1. ABUSE OF EXPATRIATES QUOTA POLICY

Expatriates quota policy in the country allows companies to employ expatriates to work in the country ONLY when the skills needed for the projects are lacking among Nigerians and when the expatriates are brought in each of them are expected to be attached four Nigerian employees to understudy them for the purpose of transferring the knowledge unto the attached locals. In Huawei Technologies there are numerous foreigners working in the country that have no Nigerian understudying them. It is so appalling that the Head of Human Resources in the company is a Chinese.

  1. INCREASING SPATE OF PRECARIOUS WORK

Despite the efforts of the Nigeria Labour Movement to stamp out precarious work in the country’s workspace Huawei Technologies is digging deeper into it. Different categories of workers exist in the company, there are some issued with initial 1-month, 3-month and 6-month contracts who have worked for the company for several number of years without confirmation of their employments. Another set of workers are handed over to more than one outsourced company which has even made it difficult to point at the real employer.

  1. BREACH OF FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION AND RIGHT TO ORGANISE

To ensure the workers in its employ do not have voice the company has been intimidating, harassing, threatening to sack and sacking employees that have made moves to organize themselves into a Union. As we address you today there are some of them have just been given warning letters to deter them from exercising their fundamental rights as enshrined in relevant laws as mentioned above.

  1. GOING AGAINST ILO CONVENTION ON LEAVE DAYS AND LEAVE ALLOWANCE

Contrary to Holiday with Pay ILO Convention 132 which stipulates that leave days shall in no case be less than three working weeks for one year of service and with pay plus its(leave) allowance the company has not been granting its workers the expected number of leave days and leave allowance.

  1. 24 WORK HOURS

The field engineers in the company are subjected to work without rest. This has had devastating impacts on their health. Why the company expects the workers to give its best 24hours everyday beats our imagination.

  1. RESTRICTIVE CAREER PATH

Huawei Technologies does not have structures in place to ensure steady growth of employees in the organisation. Employees that are diligent have spent several numbers of years in the company without promotion.

  1. DISREGARD FOR OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY OF EMPLOYEES

Field engineers in the organisation work throughout the day and even at wee hours of the night without police escort to provide security for them especially at volatile regions in the country. As a result of this series of attacks and kidnappings have been recorded on the workers.

  1. NO EXIT PACKAGE STRUCTURES EVEN FOR LONG TERM STAFF

As against the practice in the telecoms sector where exit packages are given to employees the company has persistently shied away from paying its workers at the point of their exit.

As a result of the foregoing, we hereby demand:

  1. That the company respect the right of the workers irrespective of the category they fall under to freely join the Union.
  2. Immediate withdrawal of warning letters and threats issued to the leaders of the workers trying to organize them into the Union.
  3. Immediate commencement of discussion and negotiation of Procedural Agreement and Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Union for the workers.
  4. Immediate regularization of employment of all the casual workers in the company.
  5. A stop to continued abuse of expatriates quota policy in the company.
  6. Immediate provision of PPE for the field engineers and ensuring occupational health and safety measures are put in place for the generality of workers in the company.
  7. That Huawei Technologies Nigeria Limited immediately remedies all the employee relations issues we raised above.

Huawei continues to undermine and sabotage Nigeria’s economy through its industrial relations practices which is designed to fully emasculate workers, make a nonsense of the local content policy of the federal government and ultimately exploit the nation without appropriate investment especially in human capacity and internalization of technologies for the benefit of our nation’s economy.

As a responsible Trade Union in the telecommunications and communication sector in Nigeria we shall ensure protection of the interests of all workers within the sector, hence, we are dedicated to ensuring that Huawei Technologies treats its workers fairly and within global best practices. All steps, no matter how painstaking they may be, shall be taken to compel the company to comply to all our demands.

Therefore, we implore business partners, individuals, and corporate organisations especially all the telecoms operators that rely on Huawei Technologies Limited to either impress it on the company to change its way towards the Union and its members in the organisation by yielding to our demands or source for another alternative to satisfy their business interests as our proposed action will be wide and compelling with deep implications for their business.

For the umpteenth time, we reiterate that if our demands are not fully and appropriately complied with by Huawei Technologies Nigeria Limited on or before Friday 12th March, 2021 we shall withdraw every guarantee of industrial peace within the company. Sadly, services may be disrupted across the nation throughout all networks that Huawei is associated with from Midnight of Friday 12th March, 2021.

Thank you all.

Signed

Com. Opeyemi Tomori                                                          Com. Okonu Abdullahi A.

President                                                                                 General Secretary

THE DIRECTIVE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT THROUGH THE MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND DIGITAL ECONOMY

THE DIRECTIVE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT THROUGH THE MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND DIGITAL ECONOMY TO ALL TELECOMMUNICATIONS OPERATORS TO BLOCK SUBSCRIBERS’ LINES THAT FAIL TO LINK THEM UP WITH NATIONAL IDENTIFICATION NUMBER(NIN) WITHIN TWO WEEKS

On 15th December 2020, the federal government through the National Communications Commission (NCC) directed that the GSM operators should require their subscribers to link up their National Identification Number (NIN) to their SIMs within two weeks and failure to do so the operators should block the lines of the concerned subscribers. The statement went further to threaten the operators of sanctions which include withdrawal of their licenses if they fail to affect the blockade.

We are disturbed by the insensitiveness of the federal government in this press statement. We are forced to believe that, as usual, the government wants to punish Nigerians for her own ineptitude. At this point in time that there is pervasive hardship in the land brought about by banditry, terrorism, thuggery and increasing high cost of living occasioned by the government’s hike on electricity tariff and fuel pump price we do not expect the government to impose a new and an avoidable hardship on Nigerians through this directive.

Rather than issuing a deadline and threats on linking up the NIN to SIMs what we believe the government should do is to address the bottlenecks encountered by Nigerians in the process of registration which have prevented majority of them from obtaining their NIN. Is the government aware that it is only about forty-three Million Nigerians that have been able to obtain NIN since its introduction over seven years ago? To expect Nigerians to register and obtain NIN to link it up with their SIMs within two weeks what they could not obtain for these number of years beat our imaginations.

Nigerians have suffered immensely trying to obtain the NIN to no avail. Stories told by those that have registered are not pleasant. Some were leaving their homes for the registration centers as early as 4am daily for weeks before they could register. While those that could not withstand the rigor part with monies to hasten things up for them.

We implore the government to withdraw the directive because it was not well thought out and is highly unachievable. To register about one hundred and seventy million Nigerians that are yet to be registered within two weeks is a tall order that can never be met with the present encumbrances in the present approach of registering the people.

By giving two weeks to Nigerians that have not registered to do so will surely add more hardship on them. The Government is practically telling them to abandon their businesses and whatever they are doing that bring incomes for them within that long period of time.

Also, with the second wave of COVID-19 in the country Nigerians will not be able to storm the registration centers without contracting the virus.

Furthermore, we are in the Yuletide period during which a lot of Nigerians travel across the country to celebrate with their families to ask them to register at this time is as good as putting paid to their festivities.

In the light of the above we implore the government to rather shift its focus on getting more Nigerians registered seamlessly. Registration centers should be brought closer to the people. By this we are suggesting that there should be at least two registration centers in each of the wards throughout the federation.

If and when all remaining Nigerians have been able to register and obtain their NIN, they need not be bothered to link their NIN’s with their operators, the government through the NIMC and NCC should liaise with the telecoms operators to synchronize the NIN with the subscribers’ SIMs after all, the operators still rely on the NIMC to authenticate NIN provided by subscribers before they can link them up to their SIMS.

We understand the importance of having a comprehensive database for the country and at the same time having NIN linked with SIMs we implore the government to adopt the best of approaches in putting them in place. All these can be done without necessarily causing hardship to Nigerians.

Signed

Com. Opeyemi Tomori                                                            Com. Okonu Abdullahi A.

PTECSSAN President                                                               PTECSSAN General Secretary