By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG, AUSTIN OGWUDA, EGUFE YAFUGBORHI & AKPOKONA OMAFUAIRE
INDICATIONs emerged yesterday that the management of Eko and Ikeja Electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs, have sacked no fewer than 5,075 workers.
A breakdown of the number of the affected workers shows that 2,600 workers had their identity cards withdrawn by Eko Distribution Company, DISCO, while 2,475 were from Ikeja DISCO.
An affected worker said: “We are totally confused because we do not know what to do. Our ID cards have been withdrawn without any explanation.’’
However, a senior officer said: “All workers are to submit their ID cards and then re-apply to the DISCOs as new workers. We will definitely re-engage some, while some would be laid off.”
Reacting, organised labour dared any of the DISCOs and generation companies, GENCOs, to sack the workers and face their wrath.
This came as operations of DISCOs and power plants were crippled in Asaba, Warri and Ughelli Delta State council of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, led by its Chairman, Williams Akporeha.
Other grievances of labour are perceived de-unionisation of workers by the management of the DISCOs and victimisation of labour leaders by the new investors.
Speaking to Vanguard over the withdrawal of ID cards of over 5,000 workers, General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, Mr. Joe Ajaero, said the union was expecting a conversion of the temporary employment to full employment in accordance with extant labour law, warning that anything short of that would mean trouble.
He said: “If the DISCOs and GENCOs decide to behave like dictators, we will treat them like dictators. Instead of them to provide power to Nigerians, they are busy chasing shadows.
“If they are not prepared to do business in Nigeria, we will help them to stay out of business. We have avoided confronting them since November 2013 so that they will not have an alibi for their failure.”
Meanwhile, workers in Warri, led by officials of NLC and Trade Union Congress, TUC, crippled operations at Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC, in Warri.
Augustine Omars of NLC, said: “Before the concessioning, BEDC agreed that all the severed workers would get their dues. But they have refused to keep their part of the bargain after we have made sacrifices to keep ours.
“We have written several letters, but the MD is adamant. They have left us with no option than to picket.
“They promised us severance packages, but today our families are suffering. Even if it takes 20 years to meet our demands, we will remain here. This is last warning before we go on a solidarity strike.”
In Asaba, Chairman of NLC, Akoreha, led the picketing.