By Sunday Okobi
Ikeja Electric has discontinued talks with Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) over the recent disengagement of its workers.
The electricity distribution company stated that the negotiation was tending towards a proposition that might jeopardise transparency, employee performance and service excellence to customers.
Last month, labour picketed the Ikeja Disco for three days over the disengagement of workers who allegedly failed to meet the company’s performance objectives and were deemed to be performing below standard.
However, the picketing was suspended after Ikeja Electric reached an agreement with the National Union of Electricity Workers (NUEE) and NLC to set up a committee to review the performance appraisal and competency assessment process.
Citing the reason for its action, Ikeja Electric’s Head of Corporate Communications, Felix Ofulue, yesterday in Lagos explained that the company had to discontinue the talk due to a clear determination by representatives of labour “to stick to a pre-conceived and irreversible position that the process was flawed. Therefore, the review process was an exercise in futility.”
Rather than engage in an objective and constructive review of the whole appraisal process in line with global best practices, according to Ofulue, Labour, he stated: “Preferred an arbitrary review in which reduced criteria would be applied to certain selected employees who are members of the union.”
According to the Disco Head of Corporate Communications, “The performance review process was classified into four stages, clearly detailing steps to be taken at each stage. However, labour, without taking any of these steps into consideration and any justifiable rationale, insisted the process was flawed and demanded that Ikeja Electric must recall all disengaged staff.
“While we remain committed to upholding best human capital processes and stakeholder engagement in fostering excellence in the workplace, there are indications that the propositions of certain actors in the negotiation process are against our resolve to provide improved services to our customers and are fixated on jeopardising our overall interest to move the industry forward so we had no choice but to withdraw in the interest of our consumers.”
Ofulue further noted that the electricity sector had suffered great setback over several decades of mismanagement and stressed that it was time to focus on applying quality human capital to salvage the situation.
Calling for restraint, the Ikeja Electric spokesman pointed out that labour was morally bound to protect the overall wellbeing of the masses, and not the interests of a select few.
He cited the last picketing exercise which caused great distress to the public and cautioned against saboteurs and detractors who were bent on scuttling the negotiation process for selfish reasons.
He stressed that Ikeja Electric would resist any attempt to allow its customers go through another harrowing outage ordeal, cautioning that the company will not hesitate to seek redress at the Industrial Court should Labour disrupt its ability to provide customers electricity supply and worsen the power situation which over the few weeks have been dismal due to grid challenges and gas shortage.