Mkpoikana Udoma 13 July 2017, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – Electricity workers under the auspices of National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, have vowed to resume the picketing of offices and facilities of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHEDC, if peaceful negotiation fails next week.
Recall that PHEDC and NUEE have been in a face-off since taking over from PHCN, over the inability of the company to allow its workers unionise and pay check off dues, amongst other labour related issues.
NUEE had obtained a court judgement from the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, NICN, compelling PHEDC to allow its workers to unionise, pay checkoff dues to the union as well as reinstate 144 sacked union officials under its employment, while PHEDC had also gone to court for interpretation of the court judgement.
But the NICN sitting in Abuja on June 23, 2017, in its interpretation of the court judgement ordered PHEDC to make deduction from the wages of all workers eligible to be members of the trade union as union dues or contributions to the trade union from November 2013 till date. Adding that the check-off system already exists in the company before the handover.
The National Industrial Court has also ordered PHEDC to resume its statutory responsibility of deducting and remitting checkoff dues to NUEE in line with section 5(3) of the Labour Act Cap L1 LFN 2004.
On the issue of wrongful disengagement of 144 union officials from the employment of PHEDC, the court ordered the matter to be referred to the Federal Ministry of Power and Bureau for Public Enterprise.
Meanwhile the management of Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company has agreed to meet with the officials of NUEE nextweek, on the18 or 19th of July 2017, in Port Harcourt for negotiation.
A document obtained by SweetcrudeReports, which was signed by the Head, Legal of PHEDC, Emeka Onuigbo Esq, said the essence of the choice of the proposed meeting date is to enable PHEDC make necessary arrangement for compliance and implementation of the NICN judgement.
Onuigbo in the communiqué said PHEDC is a law abiding organisation and will respect and obey the ruling of the NICN.
“PHEDC will comply with the implementation of the judgement of the NICN by deducting and remitting check off dues of all eligible members of NUEE in her organisation to the authorised officials of NUEE immediately after meeting with NUEE officials.
“The essence of the meeting is to discuss, negotiate and agree on the payment terms amongst other things.”
When contacted, the State Organising Secretary of NUEE, Mr. Innocent LordDouglas, confirmed that the union has been invited for a meeting with the management of PHEDC on the 18th or 19th of July, 2017.
LordDouglas in an exclusive interview, explained that the union will attend the meeting, but warned that it will resume picketing of PHEDC facilities with full force if they failed to come to term at the meeting.
According to him, “The union will honour the invitation by PHEDC but we will go there with an olive branch in one hand and sword in the other hand.
“If the negotiations fail, the union will resume the suspended picketing.”