Tension as electricity workers protest colleagues’ sacking, picket Ikeja Electric
The Nigeria Union of Electricity Employees on Wednesday staged a protest against the alleged sacking of 40 workers of Ikeja Electric Plc, and laid siege to the company’s headquarters in Alausa, Ikeja and all its other offices across Lagos State.
The union members shut down operations at the offices, thereby resisting access to the IE personnel and customers who had attempted to gain access to the offices.
The management of the IE, however, said that the recent separation of employees was due to varying actions, “which are not in furtherance of the overall company’s objectives.”
It also said the development came on the heels of the promotion of about 300 employees last week and the recruitment of over 500 new employees in the past one year.
However, other reasons the NUEE gave for embarking on the protest are “Random dismissal of workers without consultation with the union; poor welfare; uneven salary structure; adoption of anti-labour policies; and non-implementation of service conditions, among others.”
The union also queried the IE on its alleged incompetence to deliver steady power supply to Nigerians at corresponding rates of consumption, and accused it of deliberately hoarding prepaid meters.
It, therefore, called for a review the privatisation decision on the management of the country’s power sector.
The General Secretary, NUEE, Joe Ajaero, said the alleged maltreatment of workers by the IE had lingered for over two years.
He said workers struggled with slave wages and substandard tools of operation, which had led to the electrocution of some of them.
Ajaero said that a joint committee had been convened to address their (workers’) concerns following the layoff of over 200 workers in 2016, but alleged that the distribution company dissolved the committee and sacked more workers, without regard to a court ruling that the status quo be maintained.
“We have for over two years been writing letters and meeting with them, but they don’t want to agree. The sacking of workers is usually premised on non-productivity, but the mode for assessment of the workers is not known,” he said.
He also said, “When you give a member of staff a target to make N100m and there is no power supply in that area, will the people pay? If you give an employee a target of N150m, you don’t have transformer there, and there is no power supply to them, they will not pay and he or she will be termed as a failure.
“They want workers to force people to pay for what they didn’t use. They can’t exist in isolation. They are stakeholders. Without the workers, nothing will work. The workers produce the wealth and they misappropriate the wealth.”
The Assistant General Secretary, NUEE, Richard Kedee, said that the Disco had failed to deliver on its mandate because of its ‘casualisation’ of workers and disrespect for established labour authority.
“We believe that every organisation that works within the country must be responsible. There are rules binding the operation of every sector within the country, labour inclusive. The people here are not labour-friendly. They dehumanise their workers.
“It is the responsibility of labour to check the excesses of the organisation. They want to ensure that labour does not exist so that they will continue to dehumanise workers.”