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Blackout looms as labour threatens to shut down power plants

power• Unions issue seven-day ultimatum over sacking of 400 workers

The already poor power situation in the country may worsen going by a threat from the National Union of Electricity Employees, (NUEE), Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC), and Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) to shut down Egbin Power Station in Lagos and other electricity facilities across the country.

The unions said the decision to shut down the plants was informed by the sacking of about 400 workers, including the Deputy President of NUEE by the management of the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, (IKEDC), on Friday among other issues.

Already, the workers have issued a seven-day ultimatum, beginning from yesterday, to the management of IKEDC, to recall the affected workers unconditionally or “risk unprecedented industrial action.”

Showing solidarity to its allies, NUPENG, in a statement signed by its President, Igwe Achese said it had already directed members at the Nigeria Gas Company, (NGC), “to commence a shutdown of gas supplies to the thermal stations and plants if the 400 workers are not called back to work at the expiration of the seven-day ultimatum.”

Speaking with The Guardian on the development, General Secretary of NUEE, Joe Ajearo alleged that the decision by the management of IKEDC is part of its anti-union postures and victimisation of union members in favour of casualization.

Explaining further, he said the company’s anti-labour posture cumulated into last Friday’s sack of about 400 union members, including, the Deputy President of NUEE, Christian Omemeh.

Reacting to the allegations, the management of IKEDC through its Head, Corporate Communications, Ikeja Electric, Felix Ofulue, said, “The key objectives of the company is to create a high performing organization, which satisfies the needs of all of our stakeholders, especially our customers, as we reposition for growth.

“In the last few months, the electricity distribution company has scaled up the metering programme in order to meet the expectations of our customers and further reduce the agitation on estimated billing. It has also achieved significant strides in human capital development, which is critical to the repositioning programme,” Ofulue added.

Expressing shock over the sack, both NUEE and SSAEAC, in the seven-day ultimatum to the IKEDC, alleged that since the takeover of the company on November 1, 2013, the management has refused to put in place a mechanism to draw-up a credible condition of service that would enjoy joint authorship of labour and employer, for the benefit of both staff and management.



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