Two labour unions clash over dues of Chinese company operating in Nigeria

ZTE Nigeria Limited, a Chinese company operating in Nigeria, has lamented the disruption of its activities by two labour unions, which are laying claims to its check-off dues.

The unions, National Union of Postal and Telecommunications Employees (NUPTE) and Private Telecommunications & Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PTECSSAN), have pledged allegiance to Aliyu Wabba and Joe Ajaero, factional leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), respectively.

Brielle Gao, country human resources manager, ZTE Nigeria, said the situation had become embarrassing.

She said ZTE Nigeria has been remitting appropriate labour dues to NUPTE since 2011 because local staff of the company belonged to the union and that for ZTE Nigeria to embrace the change being sought by PTECSAN, due process must be followed.

“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,” 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.

“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.”

In a letter to ZTE Nigeria on February 28, Mary Nwosu, head of department, administration and finance of NUPTE, said “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.”

Nwosu said 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 said its action was to register its displeasure to the way the ZTE management was treating the issue of workers’ migration.

Okonu Abdullahi, general secretary of the union, accused ZTE of victimisation 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 written on February 22.


Source: The Cable

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