08 March 2016, Lagos – Members of the National Union of Electricity Employees and Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies on Monday picketed the head office of the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (Ikeja Electric).
The workers disrupted activities at the firm while expressing their displeasure over the sacking of 400 employees by the management of the company.
The unions had issued a seven-day ultimatum to the company last Tuesday asking it to recall the disengaged workers or face industrial action.
The protesters chased out all workers on the premises of the company’s head office building so as to enable them to join in the protest.
The General Secretary, NUEE, Joseph Ajaero, explained to journalists that the management of IKEDC had refused to negotiate the conditions of service with the union since the firm’s privatisation in 2013.
According to him, this has made the company to subject the workers to anti-labour treatment and render many of them redundant at will.
Ajaero said, “It is a protest to deliver the workers of Ikeja Electricity from slavery, poor salaries and inhuman treatment. The Power Sector Act stated that no company could buy both generation and distribution companies, but the government handed over the Egbin Power Station without any bid and gave the same people the IKEDC, which is one of the biggest. We have come here for them to tell us the owners of IKEDC and Egbin Power station. They are controlling the two and enslaving the workers.
“They asked people to work without equipment and there was a recent case of electrocution. For the officers who said that they were electrocuted because of lack of equipment, the company has equally sacked them. We want to withdraw their peace a bit.”
The National President, NUEE, Martin Ozugwu, said the sacking of 400 workers of the distribution company was in conflict with the job creation advocacy of the Federal Government.
He said, “For the past three years, these workers have been working in this company without a condition of service. Because of that, the management has the impunity to sack at will. Of which if they have got the conditions of service, there will be criteria for sacking and also negotiation with the union.
“We are here to say no to the injustice, which the electricity distribution companies are subjecting the workers to all over the nation.”
The General Secretary, SSAEAC, Umar Abubakar, said, “By the time IKEDC gets away with this, other companies will follow suit. The earlier we stopped them the better. We want them to call the workers back, provide conditions of service that will seal the relationship between the workers and their employers. People are dying and there are no rules of engagement. You cannot sack anybody without justification.”
However, the management of Ikeja Electric said that only 229 workers were disengaged as against the 400 being alleged by the NUEE and SSAEAC.
A statement by the company’s Head of Corporate Communications, Mr. Felix Ofulue, stated that 229 workers were affected in the disengagement exercise after they failed to meet the required parameters in the performance assessment.
As such, he said they were deemed to be performing below mandatory performance objectives.
According to him, the recruitment of young engineering graduates is ongoing to enhance sustainability of the business and create a platform for grooming future leaders.
Ofulue said, “We will like to state that the number of disengaged employees was 229 and not 400 as earlier reported. In accordance with best practice, employees in the organisation went through a thorough, transparent and objective performance assessment exercise, and those that were deemed to be performing below the required performance objectives were exited from the organisation.
“This is also to ensure that Ikeja Electric maintains an assemblage of the right staff in the right roles that are equipped to perform optimally.”