The Federal Government has called for industrial harmony and understanding between MTN Nigeria Plc and its employees, as the Telecommunication industry plays a major role in the socio-economic well-being of the nation, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, made the call in Abuja at the conciliation meeting between the management of MTN Nigeria Plc and the Private Telecommunication and Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PTECSSAN).
He said that the need for harmony in that industry had become imperative as the COVID-19 pandemic has led to greater reliance on telecommunication, with virtual activities replacing physical ones. “We are doing social distancing. We are doing so many things that require us not to meet so much physically, as part of the COVID-19 protocols.
“This is a time for digital technology; a time to ensure that our telecommunication industry, as part of our overall communication, is not destabilized.”
Ngige observed that the relationship between the employer organization and the employees remained a symbiotic one, as both parties needed each other and none could exist without the other.
The management of MTN Nigeria Plc had filed a trade dispute against PTECSSAN, accusing the Association of threatening industrial action against the organisation without recourse to the dispute resolution procedures as provided under the law.
According to the Chief Resources Officer of MTN Nigeria, Esther Akinnukawe, the leadership of PTECSSAN had by a letter dated 11 August, 2020 threatened to commence industrial action and disrupt MTN’s network if within 14 days from the date of its letter (effective midnight of 24 August, 2020), MTN had failed to meet the Association’s demands.
Speaking, President, PTECSSAN, Comrade Opeyemi Tomori, had explained that the MTN management had repeatedly stonewalled them, allowing a breakdown in communication between the parties, and had by its conduct pushed the Association into the path of issuing an ultimatum.
At the end of the meeting held at the instance of the Minister, the parties reached resolutions on the issues tabled for conciliation, and the trade dispute was resolved with PTECSSAN withdrawing the 14-day ultimatum it issued the management of MTN.
On the issue of Voluntary and Involuntary Severance Scheme, the parties resolved that involuntary exit from the service of the company should result from redundancy; and “any other situation arising from unnatural causes that gives a force majeure on the activities of the Organization.” Employees in this category would be entitled to the MTN exit package of three weeks of gross pay per completed year of service.
The conditions for exit under Voluntary Severance Scheme, as the parties agreed, would be “When the employer decides to refresh the Organization by injecting new staff members to reinvigorate the activities of the Organization, an employee can decide to embrace the scheme and will be entitled to the Company’s exit package.”
The other condition for exit under the Voluntary Severance Scheme is when an employee on his/her volition decides to leave the Organisation without any of the above conditions being applicable. Employees in this sub-category would not be entitled to any exit package, but would be allowed to enter the cycle of the other sub-category of Voluntary Severance Scheme to enable them qualify for the company’s exit package.
On the issue of unionization of management staff, the meeting resolved that “the status quo should be maintained until the relevant provision of S3 (3) and (4) of the Trade Unions Act, Cap T14, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria is amended as the present section is ambiguous and subject to different interpretations by employers and employees.”