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Benin Power Company Shut Down By Aggrieved Workers

From Jefferson Ibiwale, Benin

Electricity workers under the aegis of National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE and the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Company, SSAEC, Monday shut down the headquarters of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC, over employer-employee issues that it has allegedly failed to resolve.

The workers, backed by the two main labour unions, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and the Trade Union Congress, protested that the management of the company led by one Funke Osibodu, has failed to honour an agreement reached with the unions on April 9, 2014.

“We are protesting because BEDC management has continued with its fraudulent dealing with both workers and the public since the sale of PHCN. We planned to remain here every day until after May Day celebrations,” the union leader said.

It was gathered that all the unions and officials attended the tripartite meeting that governor Adams Adams Oshiomhole directed the commissioner to convene with the workers and BEDC so as to broker peace, but that the electricity company’s management has continually refused to honour any of the agreements reached at the meeting.

Some of the issues debated at the meeting include included the deduction of union dues from members, which was allegedly stopped by BEDC management since November last year; recall of laid-off union leaders and the payment of bulk rent, non-payment of November and December 2013 salaries to workers not paid severance allowance but who worked for the period.

Other issues are payment of staff leave grant for 2013; payment of 13th month salary which BEDC management allegedly stopped in spite of a directive from the Ministry of Power in Abuja on the issue; the non-remission of check-off dues in respect of Senior Staff Association in Asaba and Agbor in Delta State, which the company had promised to rectify and pay before Friday, April 11, 2014 but had failed to do.