… Accuse company of anti-labour action
Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
Electricity workers yesterday staged a peaceful protest at the office of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.
The protesters who paralysed business activities in the state accused PHEDC of practising anti-labour action.
The workers condemned PHEDC for issuing customers estimated electricity bills monthly, stressing that injustice meted out on their staff members and customers should stop.
Yesterday’s protest came barely a week after electricity consumers demonstrated in Port Harcourt, over “outrageous monthly bills” given by the PHEDC.
Again, another protest by residents of some parts of Port Harcourt, yesterday, coincided with the picketing of PHEDC office along Moscow Road, by electricity workers.
President, National Union of Electricity Employees, Mr. Martin Uzoegwu, who spoke during the demonstration, accused the firm of failing to obey the recent rulings of the National Industrial Court.
“We are gathered here today because PHED has refused to implement the rulings of the National Industrial Court. They (PHED) have been able to perpetrate anti-labour action, especially against its workers and Labour, as an organisation.
“That is why we are here to show our concerns and to picket the headquarters of PHED. We are saying that enough is enough for this injustice meted out on these particular people.
“The court is saying that PHED should allow workers to unionise and they (PHED) are owing us check-off dues since 2013. The check-off dues have been deducted and they have not submitted it. That is a criminal act and that is why we are here to tell them to do the right thing”, Uzoegwu declared.
Also, Deputy President, South-South, National Union of Electricity Employees, Chris Omonei, stated that it was wrong for customers to pay for electricity without getting the service.
Omonei stated: “Our reason for being here is that the masses want electricity. The people cannot be paying for darkness. We’re made to understand that they (PHED) are rejecting load from the national grid. They have been giving consumers estimated bills. If there is no meter, consumers will not pay estimated bills.
“PHED must allow workers to unionise. We saw attempts to use some workers to disrupt this protest. We had gone to court in the past on the issue of unionisation and PHED lost. But, they don’t want to obey the rule of law. They want to promote anarchy.