The Nigeria Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has asked the federal government to review the privatization of the country’s power sector, saying the investors in the sector have engaged in sundry excesses including arbitrary dismissal of workers without consultations with the union, poor welfare, uneven salary structure, adoption of anti-labour policies and frustration of the implementation of service conditions among other issues.
Joe Ajaero, the NUEE general secretary disclosed this Wednesday when he led enraged union members, to barricade the headquarters of one of the privatized power companies, Ikeja Electric.
The union also queried the IE on its seeming ineptitude in delivering steady power supply to Nigerians at corresponding rates of consumption and what it described as a deliberate hoarding of prepaid metering devices.
Ajaero said the maltreatment of workers by the IE has lingered for over two years as workers struggle with slave wage and substandard tools of operation, which has led to the electrocution of some.
According to him, a joint committee had been convened to address their concerns following the layoff of over 200 workers in 2016, but the distribution company allegedly dissolved the committee, sacking more workers despite a court ruling that the status quo be maintained.
“We have for over two years been writing letters, meeting with them but they don’t want to agree. The sack of workers is usually premised on non-productivity and the mode for assessment of the staff is not known. When, you give a staff target to make N100 million and there is no power supply in that area, will the people pay? If you give a staff a target of N150 million and you don’t have transformer there and there is no power supply to them, they will not pay and he or she will be termed as failure,” he noted.
Ajaero said the distribution companies want workers to force people to pay what they didn’t use.
According to Richard Kedee, the assistant general secretary of the Union, the federal government should not continue to entrust the administration of power supply to the private entities due to dearth of capacity to efficiently run the system.
His misgivings including casualisation of workers; disrespect for established labour authority and hostility against actions to chekckmate their excesses as results of their bid to shield the incapability to deliver their mandate.
Reinforcing the need for the government to review power privatisation, Segun Esan, the secretary general of the Nigerian Union of Railway Workers said many Nigerians were suffering from the failure of the DISCOS and GENCOS inefficiency which he describes contrasting to the expectation of a departure from the era of erratic power supply in the nation to power stability.
He said: “Our understanding as at that point Nigeria government was going into unbundling PHCN was to avail Nigerians constant and uninterrupted power supply. Unfortunately, it is a completely contrasting experience we are having to what was promised.
“We have said no to these inadequacies but the management of IE have become very recalcitrant and obstinate and that is why we are equally getting to the extreme of picketing the organisation. We will be here until they listen to the voice of reason.”