By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG, OLA AJAYI, Dayo Johnson, GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE & KUNLE KALEJAIYE
ORGANISED Labour,yesterday, crippled activities of electricity distribution companies, DISCOs, and power plants in seven states over alleged extortionist tariff without power to Nigerians, among others.
This came as investigation revealed that the DISCOs and generation companies, GENCOs, across the country since last week dispatched sack letters to over 60 percent of workers they allegedly plan to disengage from tomorrow.
It would be recalled that labour had last week threatened to shut down Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, IBEDC; Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC; Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHEDC; Jos Electricity Distribution Company, JEDC; Transcorp Electricity Ugheli, Egbin Power Plc; Geregu Power Plc, and Olorunshogo Power Plc.
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.
At the kick-off of the labour action against the DISCO and power plants, IBEDC, BEDC and Olorunshogo Power Plc, were targeted.
While some other DISCOs and power plants will be affected from today, it was gathered that Eko Electricity Distribution Company, EKEDC, and Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, IEDC, will be paralysed next week by labour and its civil society allies.
Yesterday’s action was concentrated in Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and Edo states.
Delta and other South-South states will begin theirs from today.
The picketing is being coordinated by state chapters of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and civil society allies of labour.
In Oyo State, the onslaught against IBEDC was led by the state Chairman of NLC, Mr. Bashir Olanrewaju, and as early as 7am the protesting members of NLC and their allies barricaded the gate of the IBEDC office.
The aggrieved workers chanted anti-government slogans and displayed placards with various inscriptions.
such as “Labour says no to casualisation of workers; we say no to crazy bill without supply; the investors have failed to add value to electricity supply, union is the only way, 6 months after privitisation, Nigerians are still in darkness, “People that worked for 10years in electricity industry without engagement. What is our fate”; “No to anti union stance of the investors”; “No progress can come with Darlington in charge” and many others.
In Ondo, they faulted the N750 monthly Fixed Charges on consumers by the electricity distributions companies across the country.
They displayed placards with inscriptions such as , “no more fixed charges, pay us our entitlements, Funke Osibodu must go, no to tyranny “.
For several hours the road leading to the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) office in Akure was also barricaded by the protesters.
In Edo State, led by the Edo State chairman NLC, Mr. Emmanuel Ademokun, Benson Okorodudu and Joseph Ndem both officials of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, and the Zonal President of the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Company, SSAEAC, Mr. Christopher Eguyanga , prevented workers from entering the premises of the company.
They barricaded the entrance gates of the company situated at Apkakpava Road, Benin-City .
In Ogun, they vowed not stop the protest until all their grievance were met
Chairman of the NUEE ,Adegbenro Adesanya accused Federal Government of illegally disengaging some of their colleagues after failing to adhere to the agreement of six months probation reached between them and the investors.
Also speaking, the South-West Organising Secretary,Richard Kedee declared that, the union would not compromise on members rights, and would ensure that all their entitlements were paid.
“Our protest is to senitize Nigerans on the deceit of Federal Government,that they have concluded payment of all disengaged staff and pensioners. There are still leftover. The so-called investors gave impression that they have all it takes to fix things right,but we now discovered it is a deceit. The investors have no capacity to move the sector forward. There is even attempt to destroy the union,Labour law approves unionism, and we stand by that. Our demand is also that those disengaged illegally must be recalled” Kedee stated.
Meanwhile, Vanguard investigation revealed that the DISCO and GENCOs have since last week dispatched sack letters of over 60 percent of their workers to their offices nationwide.
The affected workers are expected to start receivinmg the letter from Wednesday if all things being equal.
This development followed the impending expiration of the six months temporal engagement letters given to electricity workers on the first of November, 2013.
The expiration of the temporal engagement letters which is due to end on the 30th of April, 2014 has sent panic down the spine of electricity workers across board in the sector.
Affected workers to be disengaged at the end of April according to a source in the sector include top management and junior staff.
The new owners are saying they can no longer bear the financial burden of top management as most of the jobs are done by junior staff.