PHCN threatens to sack striking workers

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

16 November 2011, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – The Management of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, on Wednesday threatened to sack any worker who refuses to report to work, even as staff of the electricity company took to the streets protesting the recent deployment of soldiers to PHCN installations across the country.

Electricity workers stayed away from their offices and occupied the streets and entrance to the PHCN headquarters in Abuja, expressing their displeasure with the action by government.

According to a statement signed by the General Manager (Public Affairs) PHCN, Mrs. Efuru Igbo “It has come to the notice of Management that some staff of PHCN refused to come to work since Tuesday, November 15, 2011 in protest against the deployment of Military personnel to secure Federal Government’s assets and facilities across the nation, including PHCN installations.”

According to PHCN, there is no basis to embark on a strike or any industrial action as there is no trade dispute between PHCN workers and its Management.

“In view of the fact that PHCN is the sole provider of electricity services to the whole nation and as such, an Essential Services Provider under the laws of the land, the current situation calls for immediate remedy.

“In furtherance of the foregoing, please be informed that any strike or threat of strike at this time violates Section 47 of the Trade Dispute Act and Section 9(1) of The Trade Dispute (Essential Services) Act Cap.T9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. It also violates the subsisting perpetual injunction issued by the Supreme Court in the case of National Union of Electricity (NUEE) et al Vs. Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) SC.62/2004,” the statement added.

It pointed out that the consequence of violation of existing Laws of the Federation of Nigeria as cited above is that any staff who interrupts or disrupts electricity services, which act amounts to economic sabotage, will be arrested and prosecuted under the law.

It added that, “In view of the above, please take notice that any staff who absents himself or herself from work without legitimate authority stands a high risk of forfeiting his or her job in line with extant PHCN Conditions of Service (2010).”

At the time our correspondent visited the PHCN Headquarters located in Maitama, Abuja in the morning, electricity workers could be seen all over the place blocking the entrance to the offices, even as the soldiers and policemen deployed to the corporate office tried to contain the protesters so as to make way for vehicular movement.

Leaders of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Abuja Chapter, who spoke to our correspondent, decried the deployment of military personnel to their various workplaces, noting that it was an attempt to intimidate them even as government carries out some arbitrary reform process.

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