Nigeria: ZTE offices shut down

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The National Union of Postal and Telecommunication Employees has sealed the Lagos and Abuja offices of a telecommunication company, ZTE Nig. Ltd., on allegation of ill-treatment of Nigerian workers.

The union members, who staged a peaceful protest on Thursday in Abuja, accused the Chinese company of enslaving Nigerian workers.

The members, who were seen carrying placards and chanting solidarity songs at the Abuja office of ZTE, said the protest would continue until their demands were met.

The president of the union, Mr Sunday Alhassan, said that the protest followed several failed attempts to dialogue with the management of the company.

Alhassan said that Nigerian workers were exposed to long hours of work and denied payment of their entitlement.

“We agreed with the management of ZTE to hold a collective bargaining meeting to agree on the terms of engagement but they rebuffed it.

“Last Friday, we met with the management for about eight hours and at the end of the meeting they refused to sign an agreement with us.

“That shows us that their intention is to enslave the workers,’’ he said.

Alhassan stressed that Nigerian engineers were made to report to their Chinese counterparts in spite of their higher level of expertise.

“ Nigerian engineers trained some of the Chinese engineers in the company but they are made to report to the Chinese who in most cases are lower in rank.

“Some of these engineers are also made to sleep in equipment rooms when they are on posting outside the station, while the Chinese engineers get lodged in hotel accommodation.’’

The president also decried the harsh condition which female workers were subjected to, adding that those in the company’s restaurant were made to work 24 hours shifts.

He said that in some cases, the Chinese male workers assaulted some of the Nigerian female workers.

Alhassan assured the customers that the union would open the sealed offices if the management agreed with its terms and conditions.

The chairman of the Abuja branch of the union, Mr Saheed Omotara, said that the poor working condition of Nigerian workers in the company was unacceptable.

“Recently, a Nigerian driver with the company had an accident with a Chinese staff. The Chinese staff was treated while the driver’s salary was stopped. This must stop,’’ he said.

Omotara, who is a regional manager in the company, urged the management to respect the Nigerian quota system law.

He said that the law gave Nigerians the right to be treated fairly and to head any multinational company in the country after three years.

The Managing Director of ZTE, Mr Hao Fugian, said that the management was ready to dialogue with the union.

He said that arrangements had been concluded for a meeting to find a lasting solution to the problem.

“Our Human Resources Director is coming from Lagos to Abuja.

“We are going to have a meeting and we hope we are going to sort it out at that meeting,’’ he said.

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