Organised Labour operating in the telecommunications sector yesterday issued 14-day ultimatum to telcom giant, Huawei Technologies Nigeria Limited, to address all the labour-related issues confronting the workers in the company or face total shutdown of its operation in the country.
The union, Private Telecommunications and Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PTECSSAN), an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), at a media briefing yesterday in Lagos, warned that the proposed action would be damning as it would affect all major telecommunications service providers in the country whose infrastructure Huawei supported.
The General Secretary of the union, Okonu Abdullahi, said all the union’s efforts in the past three years to address all the labour related issues confronting the workers in the company including reporting to the Ministry of Labour and Employment have been rebuffed by its management. “Ultimate of which is gross disregard and denial of the workers’ fundamental human 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,” he said.
Okonu said the union has hundreds of its members working in the organisation, but they were afraid to identify with the union as Huawei in the past have sacked several of its members who dare to champion the cause of the workers in the establishment.
“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,” he said.
Among other things, the PTECSSAN scribe accused the Huawei management of intimidation, harassment and verbal assault of workers, poor and discriminatory remuneration, abuse of expatriate quota policy, increasing spate of precarious work, disregard for occupational health and safety of the employees, restrictive career path and no exit package structures even for long term staff of the organisation.
The union however said it is demanding that the company must respect the right of the workers irrespective of the category they fall under to freely join the Union, immediate withdrawal of warning letters and threats issued to the leaders of the workers trying to organize them into the Union, stop continued abuse of expatriate quotas and other issues raised.
He said, “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.”
The union stated further that Huawei has continued 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 the 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,” it added.
The General Secretary however stated, “we implored 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.”
Efforts to get the company’s reaction however proved abortive as neither the Deputy Managing Director nor the Human Resources Manager picked their calls.