By Shedrack Frank
Yenagoa, Sept. 9, 2020 The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Plc (PHED) has expressed surprise and disappointment over picketing of its offices across the franchise area by the leadership of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) on Wednesday.
PHED said the picketing had disrupted its activities in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa and Rivers, in distributing power to its customers leading to grounding of economic activities in the states.
The Manager, Corporate Communications of PHED, Mr John Onyi made this known in statement to newsmen on Wednesday.
He said the avoidable action of the union had become one too many for a service provider with the mandate of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to distribute power supply in its franchise area seamlessly.
He said that the union had through press interviews and pamphlets in circulation, adduced reasons for embarking on the picketing.
“They are refusal of Management to sign Condition of Service and Procedural Agreement, refusal to remit already deducted check-off dues, insensitivity to workers’ welfare and obnoxious policy of restructuring and repositioning.
“The management, therefore, wishes to state and set the records straight without any iota of contradiction that the adduced reasons are far from truth. The facts they say will always remain sacrosanct.
“For emphasis, the management of PHED never refused the signing of the condition of service. In fact, it was the leadership of Dr Henry Ajagbawa that actualised the lingering CoS of about six years.
“After painstaking corrections and input from both parties, it was agreed to signing on the May 23, 2020.
“The stage was set for the signing but NUEE did not turn up but Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies did and today, SSAEC has a signed copy. PHED is still wondering why NUEE did not come for the signing.
“On June, 1, 2020, another meeting was fixed at their instance and as a responsive organisation, PHED obliged them and that was the last time we heard from the union until today.
“The union check- off dues has been up to date in terms of remittance except two months in 2019 that are having reconciliation issue with the bank.
“We are aghast on the claim by the union that PHED is insensitive to the welfare of the workers when salaries of the workers have been up to date.
“Not only that PHED gave permanent appointment to over 60 DSOs who were formerly outsourced with mouth- watering salary.
“Recently, the management recruited 355 graduates from different fields to fortify the existing workforce and in all these, nobody has been sacked.
“It is also noteworthy to mention that under Dr Ajagbawa, salaries are not paid later than 30th of every month, a rare occurrence prior to this time,” he said.
Onyi said the management was unaware of alleged de-listing of NUEE or SSAEC members since membership of either belonging to NUEE or SSAEC was voluntary.
“The present management has been labour-friendly and our doors are always open to dialogue with the unions for mutual benefits.’’