The current crisis plaguing umbrella labour union in the country is taking its toll on ZTE Nigeria Limited, as two workers unions pledging allegiance to Comrades Aliyu Wabba and Joe Ajaero respectively are laying claims to the company’s check-off dues.
The unions – National Union of Postal and Telecommunications Employees (NUPTE) and Private Telecommunications & Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PTECSSAN) have been at dagger drawn culminating in PTECSSAN under Ajaero-led United Labour Congress picketing ZTE Nigeria on Wednesday.
Lamenting disruption in the company’s operations occasioned by the picketing, Country Human Resources Manager, ZTE Nigeria, Brielle Gao said as embarrassing as the action was, PTECSSAN did not follow due process as there was no warning whatsoever to the company.
According to her, ZTE Nigeria has been remitting appropriate labour dues to NUPTE since 2011 because local staff of the company belonged to the union. She noted that for GTE Nigeria to embrace the change being sought by PTECSAN, due process must be followed.
Debunking claims that the local staff had notified NUPTE of their intention to switch, Gao said “the management contacted NUPTE immediately it received the mail regarding the changes, but we were told that they (NUPTE) are not aware of anyone leaving their union. The law is very clear on the matter. Every individual member has to write to the union and copy the management if anyone desires to opt out of the union”.
In a response to a PTECSSAN mail on the issue, Gao said “the management, as required by law and practice sought the comments of NUPTE towards the request of the staff of ZTE Nig Ltd. This request was made to NUPTE to avoid double payment that may result from NUPTE and they wrote to inform us that no such information has been given to them by any of the staff of ZTE Nig Ltd. They further insisted that remission of dues should be made to NUPTE”.
She added that “while management does not intend to infringe on the right to freedom of association, it would take steps to protect the rights of others who may be forced to belong to where they do not want to belong”.
Corroborating her views, Head of Department,Admin/Finance of NUPTE, Mary Nwosu, in a letter to ZTE Nigeria of 28th February noted that “the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment is in a better position to address this issue since it has taken a dimension of your organization receiving threats from an association on labour related issues”.
According to her, the action of PTECSSAN was questionable because “for any association to request members of a registered industrial union to migrate to theirs is a direct poaching which is unacceptable in the labour movement in Nigeria”.
However, PTECSSAN, while justifying the picketing, said it was done to register its displeasure to the way the ZTE management was treating the issue of workers’ migration. Its General Secretary, Okonu Abdullahi had accused ZTE of victimization of workers and attempt to deny them right of association.
“It has become glaring to us that your management is not only uncomfortable with your workers’ membership of our union but also you have resolved to ensure that you deny them their rights to freedom of association as enshrined in Section 40 of constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, he said in a letter of 22nd February.