Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The industrial disagreement brewing between the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) Branch of the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) and its national leadership, has taken a different twist with the TCN branch taking a swipe at the national executives for suspending it from the umbrella union.
Suggesting that it was suspended for standing up to the national executives which it accused of highhandedness in its management of the unionâ€™s affairs, the branch said it would rather recall Mr. Chris Okonkwo, whom it claimed it supported to become the president of the union, than have him misrepresent the ideals of the TCN unit of the union.
The TCN-SSAEAC Branch spokesperson, Mr. Amiji Gabriel, in a statement sent to THISDAY in Abuja, alleged that Okonkwo had abused his office and because the branch stood up to him, he decided to suspend it.
Gabriel said: â€œSSAEAC TCN Branch is saddled with the responsibility of the association in Transmission Company of Nigeria as contained in our constitution.
â€œWe are known for integrity and respect for constituted authority as well as our higher labour organs, we are always armed with facts. What does a union stand to gain for false dissemination of information, especially when the target audience is the general public?
â€œWe do not intend to join issues affecting the TCN management but as staff on ground in the field in various work locations across the country, we are at least privy to facts on ground. Available proof of cleared containers so far by TCN management is not less than 655; 144 containers not yet cleared; while 75 containers are being processed. These facts are verifiable.â€
He further explained: â€œOn suspension of check off dues by management, it was at the instance of our members that the TCN Branch executive to write management to do so. We would not fail to mention that it’s one of the contentious issues with the national as she failed to remit to her members at the branch and chapters in TCN their dues after collecting 100 per cent from source.
â€œIt should be noted that before now it has been 70, 20 and 10 per cent to national, chapters and branch respectively, Mr. Okonkwo stopped the arrangement as soon as he took over. It took the branch more than three months to beg, plead and write an undertaken to Mr. Okonkwo for him to pay TCN Branch up to May, 2017 in two instalments, but has since refused to remit our due from June, 2017 to date, amounting to about six million.â€
According to him: â€œOur demand for it remain one of the branchâ€™s offence. The national owing of over 11 months has crippled union activities of SSAEAC in TCN and we have been bleeding and groaning in pain and frustration. Now, we have suspended our deductions for less than two months and the national is wild in anger. Has it not been said that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Let them have a pinch of what she has made us to go through for one year going.â€
Gabriel equally said there were questions the branch wanted Okonkwo to respond to, adding: â€œWhere is it in SSAEAC constitution for Mr. Okonkwo to be taking home N600, 000 monthly for security, who is after him? The use of non-paying members in NEC; creating internal crises with our sister union against TCN Branch; the use of security agents (DSS) to invite a fellow staff of TCN Branch executive; the use of siren by Mr. Okonkwo, not forgetting that we had several leaderships before he came on board.â€
He also alleged that Okonkwo often resorted to insulting the branch and accusing it of being used by the TCN management, as well as doctoring minutes by its nation executive meetings.
â€œWe TCN Branch are calling back Mr. Okonkwo for misrepresenting the TCN members who nominated and supported his emergence as the national president general of SSAEAC,â€ he added.