Electricity tariff hike: Labour unions seal offices of BEDC, NERC in Benin

Labour unions

By Jethro Ibileke

Business activities at the headquarters of BEDC Plc were paralysed on Monday, following the picketing of the premises by members of labour unions, under the umbrellas of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC).

The protesters also sealed off the state office of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), located along Igbesamwan Junction, Akpakpava Road.

The picketing action is in compliance with the directive by the national leaderships of the Labour Unions.

The state chairman of NLC, Odion Olaye, who led the pocketing action, described it as hugely successful.

He called on consumers of electricity in the state to join the organised labour in this struggle to bring down the prices of electricity.

According to him, “The message to electricity consumer in edo state US that they should join the struggle so that they can bring the down the price of electricity down to the nearest minimum. We are asking them to revert to the former price which is N65 per kilowatt.

“The offices of the BEDC and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission will remain locked until we get directive from the national headquarters of the Unions to unlock them.”

Also speaking on the need for the picketing exercise, the state chairman of TUC, Comrade Aighowahi James, described the hike in electricity price as a death penalty to the ordinary workers in the country.

“We are here this morning to picket this DISCO and nerc. The reason is that we want a reversal from N225 to N65 as it was before. The reason is that the hike in tarrif is a death penalty to the workers, it’s a nightmare to the workers, it’s a masquerade to the workers and to the society at large.

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“We all know the importance of electricity, once the tarrif is increased, it affects every facet of life and for that reason, the national said they should reverse it and to enable them enhance the reversal, that’s the reason for the picketing,” he said.

On his part, the Zonal Organising Secretary, Edo/Delta Zone of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Comrade Nash Shuaibu, lamented the negative impact of the hike in price of electricity on its members.

He added that the environment is no longer conducive for them to work.

According to him, “As members of National Union of Electricity Employees, we had cried out to the Nigeria Labour Congress series of time about the maltreatment, the molestation, the beatings our staff receive outside because of this in ease in tarrif.

“The environment is no longer conducive for us to work, and it is as a result of this hike in tarrif.
We have cried to the Congress to help us because electricity workers are really dehumanized, they are scared to go out for work because the customers do not have electricity supplied to them, yet, we bring bills to them.

“We are appealing to the NLC to address this issue with the NEC and the necessary agencies to ensure that our staff are protected,” he added.

Meanwhile, the management of BEDC Plc has directed its workers to work remotely, to ensure their safety.

The management in a statement issued by its Acting Head, Corporate Communications, Mrs. Evelyn Gbiwen, said BEDC is actively engaging with all stakeholders to resolve this issue promptly, adding that the safety and well-being of its employees and customers is its top priority.

The statement said: “The safety and well-being of our employees and customers is our top priority. To ensure everyone’s safety and prevent any damage to critical infrastructure, BEDC has directed its workforce to work remotely today.
“Our customer care lines remain operational, and our dedicated teams are working remotely to provide continued support to our valued customers. We understand the inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your patience.

“BEDC is actively engaging with all stakeholders to resolve this issue promptly and resume delivering reliable service to our esteemed customers.

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