As the protest by the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) enters the second day, Ikeja Electric (IE) says it will cripple the nation’s economy as customers in the zone had been thrown to darkness.
Felix Ofulue, the Head, Corporate Communications Unit, Ikeja Electric, told journalists on Thursday in Lagos that the union had driven out staff of the company from their respective places of work.
The protest over an alleged sack of about 40 staff from the electricity company had stopped work on the company’s headquarters at Alausa, Ikeja and all its substations.
The NUEE members on Wednesday began picketing the company over accusations of deliberately hoarding prepaid meters meant for distribution to customers amid deteriorating power supply to consumers.
The union, led by its Secretary-General, Joe Ajaero, had accused IE of engaging in anti-labour activities, including its continued sacking of workers.
Ofulue said members of the union laid siege at the IE headquarters in Alausa, Ikeja and all its other offices across Lagos.
“They have forcefully shut down operations at the offices thereby preventing the IE personnel and customers who attempted to gain access to the offices.
“The recent separation of staff was due to varying actions which are not in furtherance of the overall company objectives.
“This protest is coming on the heels of the promotion of about 300 employees recently and the recruitment of over 500 new employees in the past one year.
“The promotion cut across all cadres of staff, including members of the respective union in the organization,’’ he said.
Ofulue questioned the motive for embarking on the protest which, he described, as self-serving.
“When NUEE chooses to cripple socio-economic activities of over a million households, for issues that can be resolved through dialogue, one then wonders if the motives are as selfless as they claim.
“How do you plunge a country’s commercial nerve center into darkness because of a few of your members who have been separated from the business for cogent reasons?
“It is really appalling. It’s an abuse of privilege to picket.
“Imagine that our employees in Alausa Injection Sub-Station were chased out of the facility by the Union and they had to shut down 9 Feeders that supply power to Ikeja and its environs on safety grounds.
“This has resulted in an immediate blackout for at least 3, 000 customers,’’ he said.
Ofulue urged Nigerians to intervene before the situation escalated further, adding that the entire network under the distribution company were in total darkness.
He apologised to customers for the disruption of service by NUEE and promised that they would continue to work with stakeholders to ensure that the company continued to improve and provide quality service to them.