Sack of 400 Workers Pits Labour Against Ikeja Electric

power-sector

The Ikeja Electric (IE), a power distribution firm, has incurred the ire of Labour over the sack of 400 workers, including National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) deputy president.

Egbin Power station and IE are owned by Sahara Energy. NUPENG said it had directed its members at the Nigeria Gas Company (NGC) “to commence a shutdown of supplies of gas to the thermal stations and plants if the 400 workers were not recalled before the expiration of the ultimatum.”

Demanding for the recall of the workers, NUPENG said it would join NUEE when the timeline given IE to reinstate them lapses. The union said it would shut down NGC that supplies gas to thermal stations and plants all over the country.

NUPENG President Mr. Igwe Achese, in a statement, said: “The union has put its members on notice in NGC to commence a shutdown of supplies of gas to the thermal stations and plants if the 400 workers are not called back to work when the seven-day ultimatum expires.He said the 400 workers were sacked without due process and in line with relevant labour laws.

IE, on February 26, sacked 400 workers, including NUEE Deputy President Mr. Christian Omemeh, allegedly without reason.

Although the management said the action was a strategic step aimed at repositioning its business for better performance, the leadership of the three unions were obviously not impressed.

The unions lamented that since the takeover of the company on November 1, 2013, the management  had not drawn  up a credible conditions of service for workers.

Leaders of the unions said they had demanded from the management the parameters used, and it agreed to invite them to confidentially show them the parameters used and how the assessment was done. The union leaders, however, expressed regret that, no invitation had been extended to the union even as the management, contrary to best labour practices, went ahead to sack another batch of about 400 workers.

The unions called on the relevant authorities such as the Federal Ministry of Power and Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to call IE to order so that the nation will not be plunged into darkness in the next one week.

The management of IE has defended the sack. Its  Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Felix Ofulue, said:  ”The key objectives of the company is to create a high performing organisation, which satisfies the needs of the stakeholders, especially our customers, as we reposition for growth.

“In the last few months, the electricity distribution company has scaled up the metering programme in order to meet the expectations of our customers and further reduce the agitation on estimated billing.

“It has also achieved significant strides in human capital development, which is critical to the repositioning programme.”

Ofulue said as part of the strategic initiative, the company also embarked on a re-engineering exercise focused on aligning its structure with its operating model and optimising human capital capacity for better efficiency.

“We wish to assure all our customers that the organisation has put in place processes to ensure excellent delivery of quality service to our customers in 2016 and beyond,” he added

In a related development, the unions have called on the Federal government to quickly address the issue of non-payment of salaries to NUEE members across the country in the last 16 months. NUPENG also called on the Federal Government to intervene in the payment of severance benefits to 5, 000 NUEE members laid off during the last privatisation exercise.

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