The Federal Government has called for a truce between MTN Nigeria Communication Plc and Private Telecommunication and Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PTECSSAN), over a lingering trade dispute.
Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, made the call during a conciliation meeting; between the management of MTN Nigeria and PTECSSAN on Tuesday, August 18, in Abuja.
The union had issued a 14-day ultimatum to MTN Nigeria; over allegations bordering on unfair labour practices; and the union also threatened to embark on strike on Aug. 24; if the issues were not addressed by then.
The union’s demands include allowing every employee that wishes to join the union to do so; without further delay and any form of intimidation; and to immediately sign the procedural agreement as proposed by the union.
Others are to recruit new employees to ease workload burden; to review emoluments of employees, for MTN to discontinue expert quota; regularisation of the employment status of casual workers, among others.
According to Ngige, the telecom industry is a very sensitive industry.
“It is the major mode of communication, especially at such a time of this COVID-19 pandemic; it has become imperative now that we are doing virtual meetings.
“Therefore we are not very enthused when we got a trade dispute form from the MTN Nigeria; who are the employers this time; unlike the former times when it was usually the workers filling trade disputes notes.
“Thus this time, we went to preempt such disputes; because this is a time for digital technology. This a time for us to make sure that our Telecom industry, as part of our overall communication is not destabilised at all.
“We ate doing social distancing. We are doing so many things that required us not to meet so much physically as part if the COVID-19 Protocol.
“It is in that respect that I advise everyone, employers(MTN), employees to calm down; for us to address the immediate needs for the company to be afloat; as both parties need each other to be alive,” he said.
Speaking, Mrs Esther Akinnukawe, Chief Human Resources, MTN Nigeria, commended the minister for the timely intervention on the allegations by the union.
She said that MTN has been very cooperative in the course of its engagements with the representatives of PTECSSAN.
According to her, as a matter of fact, the ongoing negotiation of the Procedural Agreement of the union; has also been professionally managed in spite of the untoward attitude of the union.
“MTN considers the union approach and the recent ultimatum as improper because they are mere allegations and the union neither engaged nor discussed the issues in its recent letter with MTN as required under the Trade Dispute Act,” she said.