2nd May, 2012
Staff of the Jos Call Centre of MTN, a telecommunications operator, on Tuesday took to the streets to protest the suspension of 10 of their members.
The staff, clad in MTN Yellow T-Shirts, claimed that their colleagues were suspended by CNSSL, the consultant outfit managing the centre for the telecommunications company.
They took over some major streets in the city, chanting solidarity songs and asked the company management to reinstate the affected staff.
The protesting staff said those suspended are six union executive committee members and four others.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the staff carried placards, some of which read “Say ‘No’ to slave wage”, and “MTN and CNSSL are partners in crime”.
Others carried placards with inscriptions such as “Nigerians are slaves to South Africans, what a pity”, and “Enough is enough, no more slavery.”
The protesting staff were, however, orderly and peaceful as they were surrounded by some policemen and men of the security Special Task Force.
NAN gathered that this was ostensibly to avoid any breakdown of law and order.
NAN recalls that the staff had last Tuesday protested against management’s plans to suspend the officials.
This was after the affected staff were reportedly compelled to sign their suspension letters.
It would be recalled that the Call Centre staff were allowed to form a union after the centre was picketed on March 14, 2012 by NLC over alleged poor conditions of service.
In the Memorandum of Understanding signed then by the NLC and the CNSSL management, the latter had permitted the workers to join unions of their choice.
Immediately after this, an interim executive committee was installed.
Paul Afolabi, the acting Chairman of the Call Centre’s branch of the National Union of Telecommunications Employees, claimed that the affected staff had done nothing wrong to warrant any suspension.
Afolabi told NAN in an interview that CNSSL management and NLC agreed then that nobody would be victimised, thus leading to the opportunity to form unions.
He wondered why the formation of the union should be a worry to the company.
“This is a ploy to divert attention from the issues on ground. We will not be deterred until they improve our conditions of service.
“The difference between what we take in Jos here and those of other call centres in Lagos, Kano and Kaduna is just too much,” the union official said.
He said, as a way of pressing home their demands, the staff would not honour the slated meeting with the management on May 3, 2012 unless the workers were recalled.
Afolabi had told NAN the meeting was earlier scheduled in order to address the issues at hand.
“The management must recall our suspended members before negotiations will continue,” he vowed.
Efforts to speak with Jibrin Bancir, the Plateau NLC Chairman, proved abortive as calls to his mobile phone lines were not going through.