The Management of BEDC Electricity PLC (BEDC) hereby condemns the illegal picketing of today, Wednesday, 31st October 2018 of its Head office in Benin and some business units in its coverage areas by the Nigerian Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), over what it called the non-adoption of NUEE’s position on a new Conditions of Service under negotiation for workers as well the termination of employment of some staff for disciplinary matters. (i.e staff member found to be engaged in illegal field activities).
Management views the action as being provocative and pre-emptive of ongoing negotiations over the new conditions of service under review, of which BEDC has stated its position.
BEDC and the union had concluded negotiation on most of the issues except for a few items which BEDC has officially declared a trade dispute on.
Some of areas in contention include:
(1) Request by the union for BEDC to give loans to their members, in spite of BEDC’s feedback that this is an activity for banks and BEDC does not have free working capital for such engagement.
(2) Request by Union for BEDC to pay Exit token above affordable level to staff that are exited from employment.
In addition, based on the information gathered during today’s picketing, another part of their issue relates to staff members who have been terminated based on disciplinary issues, largely relating whistle blowing from customers and fellow staff members relating to illegal extortion of money from customers in the field with these customers now assisting BEDC in fishing out such staff and their illegal operators in the field.
Management took a position on the afore mentioned items in line with what obtains in unionized private sector organizations and in tune with BEDC financial reality in a power sector that is just evolving with the attendant operating challenges that has impacted negatively on revenue generation.
We wish to note that upon receipt of a written correspondence from NUEE stating its rejection of our offer on the remaining outstanding items in the Conditions of Service not yet agreed upon, and line with the labor laws, BEDC wrote the Federal Ministry of Labour, declaring a trade dispute and requesting for their arbitration intervention, upon which the Ministry in turn wrote back to NUEE not to take any action whilst inviting both parties (NUEE and BEDC) for mediation meeting for Monday November 5, 2018.
We are however surprised at the action of NUEE to embark on the picketing, without regard for the rule of law and legal process or recourse to BEDC Management, security agencies and the labour ministry,.
BEDC management is not opposed to union activities and any picketing should be in line with Nigerian Labor laws especially where all avenues for productive engagement in terms of fruitful negotiations have failed, but this is not the case in BEDC/NUEE impasse, as the matter is still receiving the attention of the labor ministry that is ready to mediate.
Management also wishes to note the assault on some of our staff involved in the crusade against illegal activities on BEDC network during today’s picketing, an act which shows deliberate attempt to sabotage of our policy to eradicate illegality and improve power supply to customers. It should be noted that some injection substations are shut down due to this illegal picketing and assault taken against staff who are manning these locations in order to prevent customers from receiving power,
We have notified the security agencies and other relevant bodies on the illegal operation, in order to allow the arbitration process to be concluded.
Management BEDC Electricity Plc