Workers may shut Enugu Disco over alleged victimisation
Hospital employees petition President over alleged N254m embezzlement
POWER supply in the South East region may be disrupted if the threat by workers to shut down the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) from September 1 is carried out, even though the EEDC says it has cordial relationship with its workers and does not believe in fighting with labour unions.
Meanwhile, the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly rescue the workers from the grip of corruption, embezzlement, misappropriation and abuse of office allegedly being committed under the administration of the Medical Director, Dr. Jojo U. Onwukwe.
They alleged that he had attained the compulsory retirement age of 60 years on October 3, 2014, but has remained in office in total disregard to the mandatory retirement age specified by civil service rules.
They also want him to account for N254 million belonging to the hospital. Workers may shut EEDC Rising from their meeting in Enugu yesterday, the workers, under the aegis of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), drawn from the five states in the zone, accused the management of the company of victimisation, claiming that industrial relations practice in the company has been seriously undermined.
Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, South East Coordinator of TUC, Comrade Chukwuma Igbokwe, alleged that the EEDC had refused to attend to letters and dialogue over the situation of the workers.
According to him, “union activities in the company are almost dead. In standard labour practice, workers are allowed to participate in union activities, but the electricity company, through a circular, instructed that workers should only meet after close of work and they should give two weeks notice before holding their meeting.
That is against standard labour practice. “Workers should be allowed at all times to discuss any matter relating to them, they should be allowed to meet with management. The workers are being given option to opt out of the union by asking them to fill a form each in which they promised not to belong to any union. “The last disengagement was targeted at all the union officials.
We have written and tried to meet with them to tell our own side of the story that the action looks like victimization. If you think that the only way you can flush out the union is by disengaging their officials, it will not be fair at all. “We are saying that these people should re-engage the disengaged labour leaders in the EEDC.
Again, there are so many arrears of statutory claims ranging from leave allowance for 2013 to transfer claims. People are transferred indiscriminately and we are saying that these things are not fair. “The company should immediately effect these payments because you don’t transfer somebody without paying the person allowance.” Igbokwe, who is also the Chairman of TUC in Enugu State, condemned the alleged casualisation and “indiscriminate remuneration of workers” at the company, saying: “Up till now, we have not come up with what we call scheme of service for the workers.
Those workers are treated as slaves and we are saying this is a company that benefitted from workers in the South east. We cannot be patronising this organisation and the workers are treated like slaves. We also met over incessant harassment.
People are being arrested and accused unnecessary. “Somebody will make an allegation that somebody cloned a meter, and without evidence, the person will be stripped to his pants and handcuffed by security agents,” Igbokwe alleged.”
He called on the management of the company to address the issues within the next three weeks or face serious industrial action by the labour unions from the five South East states.
In his reaction, the EEDC’s Public Affairs Officer, Eugene Aniowo, said the company has maintained cordial relationship with organized labour and has not taken issues concerning it for granted. According to him, EEDC has continued to pay its workers and is not indebted to any staff.
He said there was no truth in the statement that the retrenchment carried out recently was targeted at union leaders. “We have several union leaders currently working in the company and they have continued to hold their activities unmolested.
We pay the check off dues and have not in any way been found wanting in our responsibilities to our staff,” Aniowo said.
Psychiatry alleged embezzlement of N254m Addressing a press conference in Enugu on Monday, the officials of JOHESU, which comprise Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Senior Staff Association (SSA) and National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNUM), threatened to close down the hospital if the Federal Government did not investigate and remove Onwukwe.
Chairman of NANNUM, Comrade Ejimadu Alozie, alongside his colleagues in the other unions, alleged that the N64 million meant for arrears of staff, N110 million meant for the completion and equipping of the multi-purpose Clinical Services complex were mismanaged.
He called on him to account for the over N10 million drugs from the Drug Revolving Fund (DRF), alleging that “prescription by doctors were now sourced from outside the hospital”.
They further called for investigation of the N60 million allegedly withdrawn from the staff cooperative welfare, claiming that the medical director withheld the union’s check-off dues’ deduction since January, among others. Onwukwe, however, said he would not react till today.