No fewer than 236 casual workers of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) were on Thursday converted to full staff after months of internal strife.
Dr Henry Ajagbawa, the Managing Director of PHED, signed a condition of service between the company and the National Union of Electricity Employees in Port Harcourt.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the signing was also witnessed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, represented by Ehigbai Iziren, Zonal Director (South South) in the ministry.
Ajagbawa said that the company took the decision to upgrade the status of the casual workers due to the critical roles they played in the company.
“When I came in as managing director, one of the most critical challenges we faced was the issue of our Distribution Sub-station Officers, numbering 236 contracted staff.
“We felt that these people are critical to our operation simply because the work that they do centres on energy distribution.
“So, we decided to cancel the contract with third parties and hired all 236 of them. Consequently, today they are now full staff of PHED.
“We have increased the salary they were earning when they were under contract. So, this is part of the certification we attach to our staff,” he said.
According to the managing director, PHED is not deterred by the current challenges the company is facing in revenue collection and meter bypassing but is focused on doing the right thing.
He said that the company is committed to improving the welfare of workers and described labour as the engine of every organisation.
According to him, the industry is undergoing changes, and as such, PHED must reposition to serve its customers better.
“So, what we are doing is to try and reposition the company so that we can keep our head above water.
“Currently, we have cleared our salary arrears as well as paid salaries on the 30th of every month.
“We recognise that without human element there is nothing we can do,” the PHED’s Managing Director said.
Ngige thanked the PHED and called on other organisations to implement agreements reached with their workers to prevent industrial disputes.
He called for effective synergy between the management and staff to achieve maximum productivity.
“However, workers must also share in the blame as they need to work together with their employer for peace and longevity of the organisation.
“So, the agreement signed today is unique. It is important that companies keep to agreements to promote industrial peace and harmony.
“We at the ministry frown at situations where the rules and agreement is flouted by any of the parties,” he said.