By Victor Ahiuma-Young
WORKERS in the nationâ€™s electricity industry have threatened to cut power supply to Rivers State toÂ protest perceivedÂ anti- labour practices by the management of Bonny Utility Company (BUC), with alleged tacit backing of the state government.
In a petition to the Minister of Labour and Productivity, copied the governor, Rivers State commissioner of police, director of State Security Service (SSS), Rivers State, and special adviser to the governor on utilities, the workers, under the umbrella of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), accused the management of BUC of not only denying its workers right to unionism, but also threatening to sack those who have resolved to join the union despite management harassment.
NUEE in the petition by its General Secretary, Comrade Joe Ajaero, stated in part: â€œWe are constrained to bring again this issue of anti-labour practice by the management of Bonny Utility Company (BUC) in view of the magnitude of the effect which any eventual action by us may create. You will recall our alert on their misdemeanour vide memo NUEE/NS/2009/696.
The union and the management of BUC eventually held a meeting on Tuesday 17 November 2009 at the companyâ€™s office, Hospital road, Bonny. At the meeting, the teething issue of unionizing the work- force was extensively discussed and resolved.â€
Membership/Authority to deduct Union Dues Forms (40 in number) were thereafter issued to potential members.
These forms were forwarded to BUC, to commence deductions via – memo ref: NUEE/NS/2009/989. To our amazement, the Management has returned those forty (40)Â Â number forms duly completed by the staff as a renege from the agreement of the meeting held on 17th November 2009.â€
â€œPrior to the meeting, they had threatened to sack enmasse all those who showed interest in the Union membership. Which was why the workers employed the services of Solicitors to ward off the looming action.
In the light of the foregoing, we demand that Bonny Utility Company Management should as a matter of urgency, allow the unionization of the workers, stop the intimidation, threat and victimization of the workers and allow a level playing ground for cordial workers/Management relationship and conducive working environment.
Sir, should they fail to effect deduction of dues for the members within the next 14 days, power supply to Rivers State will not be guaranteed as all members of the National Union of Electricity Employees, in theÂ state would embark on an indefinite action to protest BUCâ€™s anti workers stance.
We therefore ask that the State Government be informed of this development for necessary action. Besides, the Rivers State Government cannot be a Landlord to a company that does not respect the laws of Nigeria. Should this measure fail, the members of the Union country wide will embark on sympathy action. Please, be informed that our action is a just cause.â€