24 January 2017, Enugu – There was total disruption of power supply in the five states of the South-east region yesterday as members of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) shut down the operations of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) following lingering trade dispute which is not unconnected with the “reckless sack” of over 400 workers of the company without notice.
The workers, who ensured that services were completely paralysed, did not only picket the company, but vowed not to shift grounds until their conditions were met. They condemned in strong terms the sack of workers without any reason by the EEDC management.
As early as 7a.m. yesterday, thousands of workers drawn from various labour unions have taken over the two entrances to the company, preventing movement in and out of the place, thereby causing total disruption of power supply in the state.
The workers who chanted anti-EEDC slogan and branding several placards, said the latest sack of the over 400 workers without notice two weeks ago was totally unacceptable.
The protesting workers, made up of United Labour Congress (ULC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) among others, alleged that EEDC had operated without conditions of service and treats workers like slaves.
Led by the President of United Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, the workers said the decision to occupy the company headquarters and other outlets in the southeast zone following the alleged refusal of its management to attain to various requests on workers welfare.
“The EEDC has been adopting anti-workers stance, sacking workers at will and operating without conditions of service. That is why we have come here to equally enforce the fundamental rights of the workers. We have been writing them for the past six months and by December 1, we gave them a two weeks ultimatum and they did not respond. By eight days ago, we gave them another one week which has expired. That is why we are here to protest and know why the EEDC should not obey the laws of this land,” Ajaero noted.
But the EEDC management called on the leadership of the NUEE to tow the path of dialogue instead of blackmail and disruptive action, explaining that it had been on several meetings and discussions with different arms of the labour unions.
The company in a statement by its Head of Communications, Emeka Ezeh, said: “We were greeted this morning by a picket action organised by the NUEE across our business areas. The group besieged our offices, drove away our staff, beat up our security personnel at some location and also locked up our offices.
“This is embarrassing to us and surprising too as we have never been averse to the Union and its activities. We have been in constant meeting and discussion with the different arms of the labour union on different issues and I think it will be wrong for the NUEE to claim that we have refused to meet with their representatives.”
It continued: “EEDC embarked on a restructuring exercise last year, this was brought to the attention of representatives of the Union at some of our sessions last year. After this exercise, some job positions were abolished as they were no longer relevant; staff were assessed and some of them who could not defend their positions/jobs were eventually disengaged; while we also hired additional staff to beef up our technical and customer service team.
“The decision of the management is in the interest of the organisation and was not in any way meant to witch-hunt any staff; the process was transparent and fair. We are a private establishment and under obligation to serve our customers; to do that effectively, we have to survive and remain in business.”
- This Day