Why Ikeja Electric Discontinued Talks With Labour

IKEJA

In its bid to ensure excellence service delivery to consumers, the management of Ikeja Electric said it discontinued talks with Labour over the recent disengagement of workers, stating that the negotiation was tending towards a proposition that would jeopardise transparency, employee performance and service excellence to customers.

Labour had picketed the electricity distribution company for three days last month over the disengagement of workers who failed to meet the company’s performance objectives and were deemed to be performing below standard.

The picketing was, however, suspended after Ikeja Electric reached an agreement with the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to set up a committee to review the performance appraisal and competency assessment process.

Citing reason for its action, Ikeja Electric’s Head of Corporate Communications, Felix Ofulue, explained that the company had to discontinue talks with the labour unions due to a clear determination by representatives of labour to stick to a pre-conceived and irreversible position that the process was flawed. Therefore, the review process was an exercise in futility.

“Rather than engage in an objective and constructive review of the whole appraisal process which is tailored in line with global best practices, Labour preferred an arbitrary review in which reduced criteria would be applied to certain selected employees who are members of the union,” Ofulue said.

He explained that: “The performance review process was classified into four stages, clearly detailing steps to be taken at each stage. However, Labour, without taking any of these steps into consideration and any justifiable rationale, insisted the process was flawed and demanded that Ikeja Electric must recall all disengaged staff.

“While we remain committed to upholding best human capital processes and stakeholder’s engagement in fostering excellence in the workplace, there are indications that the propositions of certain actors in the negotiation process are against our resolve to provide improved services to our customers and are fixated on jeopardizing our overall interest to move the industry forward. So, we had no choice but to withdraw in the interest of our consumers,” he said.

Ofulue noted that the electricity sector had suffered great setback over several decades of mismanagement, stressing that it was time to focus on applying quality human capital to salvage the situation.

The Ikeja Electric spokesman pointed out that Labour was morally bound to protect the overall wellbeing of the masses, and not the interests of a select few, citing the last picketing exercise, which he said caused great distress to the general public and cautioned against saboteurs and detractors who were bent on scuttling the negotiation process for selfish reasons.

He said that Ikeja Electric would resist any attempt to allow its customers go through another harrowing outage ordeal, cautioning that the company would not hesitate to seek redress at the Industrial Court should Labour disrupt its ability to provide electricity supply to its customers and worsen the power situation, which over the few weeks have been dismal due to grid challenges and gas shortage.

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