• Saturday, July 20, 2024
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OPS says economy at risk over labour’s plan to disrupt DISCOs’ operations

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The organised private sector (OPS), operating under the aegis of Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), says the economy could be plunged into greater dangers should the organized labour go ahead to disrupt the operations of electricity distribution companies (DISCOs), new owners of the unbundled/privatized Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). Labour, which is accusing the new investors of unfair practices, has served a notice to take on the DISCOs, with appeal to Nigerians to bear with them (labour) if the action which, it said, would start soon results in non supply of electricity to consumers. Joe Ajaero, the general secretary of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), served the notice, last week, to begin the picketing of the DISCOs. Specifically, the union is accusing the DISCOs of de-unionisation and underpayment of workers, casualisation, sacking of union leaders, continued manipulation associated with increase in fixed tariff, continued non-metering of electricity customers and non-payment of entitlement of disengaged staff. “Given that workers and Nigerians at large are badly affected by these illicit actions, we have

decided to engage them with the aim to restoring normalcy in the system sector”, Ajaero said. In Jos, Plateau State, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) led by the state chairman, Anthony John, last week, picketed Jos Distribution Company which supplies electricity to Bauchi, Benue, Gombe and Plateau states. But Olusegun Oshinowo, the director general of NECA, warned of imminent danger and further damage to the economy if the labour’s action is not checked. He said the new investors should be encouraged to strengthen the long neglected and decayed power sector, urging labour to embrace dialogue or approach the

National Industrial Court (NIC) where they may be dispute “rather than take the laws into their hands”. The director general argued that while NECA as the umbrella body of employers was not opposed to unionisation of workers, unions must respect the position of the Trade Un last week, picketed Jos Distribution Company which supplies electricity to Bauchi, Benue, Gombe and Plateau states. But Olusegun Oshinowo, the director general of NECA, warned of imminent danger and further damage to the economy if the labour’s action is not checked. He said the new investors should be encouraged to strengthen the long neglected and decayed power sector, urging labour to embrace dialogue or approach the National Industrial Court (NIC) where they may be dispute “rather than take the laws into their hands”. The director general argued that while NECA as the umbrella body of employers was not opposed to unionisation of workers, unions must respect the position of the Trade Union Act (2005) as amended, which vests the choice of belonging or otherwise to any labour union on an employee.

He noted that much as NECA would not support employers who prevent their employees from joining unions, the workers should, however, be allowed to decide whether or not to join and not forced by union leaders to automatically belong, as this is no longer the position of the law. Oshinowo said there was the need for organized labour whenever aggrieved on any issue to explore available alternative dispute resolution mechanisms as provided for in the system rather than resort to strike which often hurts the economy and puts job creation at risk.