Members of the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEC) and the junior workers grouped under the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) clashed this morning in Benin over the transfer of the PHCN to its new owners.
The clash culminated in the locking up of the Akpakpava Road headquarters of Electricity Distribution Company of PHCN in Benin by members of the NUEE who barricaded the entrance into the building as early as 7 am.
A member of the SSAEC allegedly sustained serious injuries in the fracas and was taken to an undisclosed clinic for treatment.
A cameraman of Independent Television, Benin was roughly manhandled and his camera slightly damaged.
General Secretary of NUEE, Comrade Joseph Ndem, accused members of the SSAEC of conniving with management of the PHCN to short-change their members in the transfer of the company to the new investors.
“It is an issue of labour. We have issued notice to the management of PHCN that we are going to shutdown services until all the issues are addressed. By the time we came out to carry out the directive, our sister union also came up to tell us that we have no right to lock the office. It was on that premise that an arguement ensued and it degenerated into scuffle.”
He said all offices of the PHCN in Edo, Delta, Ondo and Ekiti states controlled by the Benin office would continue to be under lock and keys until their grievances are addressed.
Branch President of SSAEAS, Comrade Chris Egunyanga, confirmed that one of his union members was injured while they were trying to prevent NUEE members from locking up the office.
He said they actually have no issues with members of NUEE or with management of the PHCN.
“We don’t have any problem. Our sister union said they have issues with the management here. They came here on Thursday, drove our members out of the office and told them not to come to work today.
“On our part, we saw it as an affront and told them if they have issues, they can engage management but they should not involve our members. We are not part of the issue they have with management. We want to work but they said we should not work,” Egunyanga said.
He denied allegations by NUEE that his members were discussing with the new investor for Benin zone in collaboration with the management staff.
General Secretary of NUEE, Joseph Ndem said the fracas ensued because SSAEAS stopped them from locking up the office, just as he accused the senior staff and management of holding secret meetings with the new investor without informing NUEE.