ANGRY workers of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) have vacated the premises of the Benin headquarters of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) three days after it was sealed off.
Citing unfriendly labour practices and poor services by BEDC, the workers had on Tuesday barricaded the premises on the main street of Akpakpava, preventing staff from entering their offices.
The Assistant General Secretary, National Union of Electricity employee (in charge of Lagos District), Mr Richard Kedee who led the demonstration said the protest was as a result of the electricity company poor labour laws and treatment of its worker like a slave.
He said: “There is no condition of service and they are owing workers. It has been five years since BEDC was licensed but from what we have seen the privatisation of PCHN has failed and as such, we are calling on the government not to renew their license this year.”
Normal business activities were on yesterday when TribuneOnline visited as all the barricades had been removed.
The Public Relations Officer of BEDC, Mr Tayo Adekunle explained that the barricades were removed at dawn following the intervention of the Edo State Commissioner, Mr Johnson Kokumo who brokered a meeting between the management of the electricity company and the union.
Adekunle said that following the inability of BEDC to meet the demands of the electricity workers for a loan, exit tokens amongst others, it had approached the Federal Ministry of Employment, Labour and Productivity for a trade dispute.
He said that a meeting was scheduled for Monday, November 5 between the warring parties, only for.the union to the gun and embark on a strike.
A letter from the Secretary of the union, Mr. I. Babalola directed the striking workers to cease fire: “Having taken a critical assessment of our picketing action of BEDC in the four states (Edo,’Delta, Ondo and Ekiti), arising from a with the Commissioner of, BEDC management, the Ministry of Employment, Labour and Productivity and the leadership of NUEE, the picketing action is hereby suspended to ensure negotiations.”
The image maker explained that as a private sector organisation, it operates in line with private sector condition of service.
Adekunle added: “We were still engaged in that negotiation to a point that we told that what we could offer in line with the financial reality on ground. They said that it was unacceptable to them and that based on that, they would picket us.
“We wrote to the Federal Ministry of Labour on the situation and they told both NUEE and BEDC to stay action and come for a discussion next Monday. There is nothing wrong in picketing but in the company, majority of the staff are not union members.
“There is nothing like licence renewal, the privatisation exercise was a once-for-all transaction that transferred the assets of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria to core investors in the BEDC.”
He said all over the world the power sector is a long-term investment and that even when the Bureau of Public Enterprises spoke about a review of performance, it said that it would be done in December, 2019.