Sierra Leone Energy Minister settles NPA palava
Following the unexpected strike action that was taken by the staff of the National Power Authority (NPA) on Friday, October 18, this year, the Energy Minister, Hon. Oluniyi Robbin-Coker has been hailed by not only the management but also the staff of the NPA for what they described as his professional, diligent and neutral manner in which he handled the impasse between the management and staff of the organization.
A source who spoke to this press stated that on the day of the strike, on his arrival at his office, the Minister like all other customers found himself sandwiched by a mammoth crowd of NPA workers from all the stations around the city gathered at the frontage of the Electricity House along Siaka Stevens Street in Freetown to protest for certain burning issues relating to staff welfare which he said NPA management had failed to address for too long.
He explained that the crowd occupied the entire upper Percival Street, spilling over Siaka Stevens Street making it almost impossible for customers and top senior management officials to access the building.
He further revealed that the Minister upon reaching the office immediately intervened in the matter by calling on the President of the Senior Staff Association, Mr. Alimamy Max Bangura and his executive to give him audience.
He also explained that Hon. Robin-Coker was able to captivate the emotions of the aggrieved NPA staff by telling them that he had already invited the executive of the Senior Staff Association to his office, which he said calmed down the staff who decided to wait to hear from their executive after the meeting with the minister.
The source explained that in the Minister’s office, the executive of the NPA Senior Staff Association highlighted all the issues and concerns that led to the strike action taken in the morning, adding that they could not consider it to be a demonstration or strike as there was no notification to management at all.
He said Mr. Alimamy Max Bangura explained that the action they took was just to force the NPA management to take up their responsibilities, which he stressed had been usurped by the Board of Directors to the detriment of the workers and customers in general.
He disclosed that the concerns raised were, late payment of salaries, the manner of paying rent allowance, the non-existence of workers’ hand book and guidelines on duty, inadequate benefits especially to senior staff, default medical facilities, promotion, performance appraisal process, and safety gears for workers among others.
He said these concerns were discussed first by the Minister, his Deputy, Mr. Martin Bash-Kamara, the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Bannie Ellah-Seisay, the monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Mr. Madieu Jalloh, and other staff members and the executive of NPA Senior Staff Association.
The source continued that the Minister asked the President of the Senior Staff Association to dispatch all his members for two hours so that he could invite the management of NPA to his office to present and discuss the highlighted concerns to them.
He also stated that no sooner the workers were dispatched to allow safety and sanity, than the Minister gathered members of NPA management in his office where these concerns were discussed.
He said the Minister conveyed a third meeting with both parties and after over two grueling hours, was able to resolve the impasse between the two parties.
The source further explained that before the joint presentation of the resolutions to the workers in front of the building, the Minister reminded both parties strongly to be fully aware of the fact that electricity is still considered number one for the President’s Agenda for prosperity and that they must deliver quality service to the people which he sais needed the efforts of both the workers and management.
He said the Minister called on the two parties to open a channel of normal communication as it was the communication gap that caused the impasse. He said the Minister also told them that he would like to see them coming up with programmes that would improve service to the people.
He concluded that the workers were pacified and they hailed the Minister after the presentation of the resolutions which pleased them but shouted several times that they want the Board of Directors of the NPA to either deliver effectively or be changed.
By Denis Jones
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