Members of the Edo State chapter of Trade Union Congress ((TUC) got more than they bargained for, yesterday, when they were engaged in fisticuffs by staff of the Benin Region office of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), during an attempt by TUC officials to picket the company.
The TUC officials had, early in the morning, gone to the Benin TCN office, along Sapele Road, locked the gate and prevented workers from resuming for duty.
After initial appeals to open the gate, members of the National Union of Electricity Employee (NUEE), attempted to forcefully open the gate but they were resisted by the TUC members. This resulted in fisticuffs.
The NUEE members said they were not affiliate of TUC and, therefore, would not be prevented from resuming for work, even as they told the TUC to focus on the senior staff in the organization; who are actually their members.
The protest, however took a different dimension when TUC members in TCN kicked against the picketing.
TUC branch of Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, Amos Patrick, said they were not carried along in the picketing.
“They came to protest in the company. We are not aware. The only thing we are aware of is that our President General, Chris Okonkwo, had problem with the TUC branch. He was not working with the union’s constitution and our executive, at the TUC branch level, kicked against his leadership style and he proscribed the entire branch. He tried to set up a caretaker committee but we told him he cannot remove our leadership. We don’t want them here. They are on their own”.
On his part, NUEE State Secretary, Comrade Joseph Ndem, described the picketing as an aberration, in terms of industrial relationship.
“They should be able to solve their problem. We were not carried along. We are NUEE. Members of NUEE were not allowed to go inside. NUEE are not members of TUC but members of United Labour Congress. Our members have to enter the place even if we have to break through the gate. They should go and solve their problem”, he said.