Privatizing electric coop may mean lost jobs, contractualization

By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY — The general manager of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) warned that if private corporations and capitalists manage to take over the operation of the cooperative, there is a possibility that this will lead to job displacements and contractualization.

Beneco GM Gerardo Verzosa revealed here that are at least two companies who expressed their interest in operating Beneco. He said such operation of the cooperative by a private business is possible given that it is allowed under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (Epira) law. “But we have to anticipate that if such happens, the Beneco employees shall be given options,” he said.

Verzosa explained that if the private business owner comes, he may offer the employees like the linemen to resign from Beneco and get their separation pay. He said the new operator may also offer the employee, if he/she would like to continue working as a lineman just like when he was a regular Beneco employee.

He said that the new operator may also offer the former employee to be a “business partner” where they are paid on a per piece-work basis, as a ‘lineman business partner’ one may be paid according to how many posts he maintained. He warned that this system creates competition where the linemen will try to outdo each other so that they will be able to be paid more at the end of the day.

He said he saw such in two companies where the employees where made as “business partners” that he said eventually led to the former employees at the losing end because of the compewtition.

Verzosa added that the electric consumers will also carry the burden of possible high electric consumption rates. He said that because the cooperative will possibly be purely driven by business, the capitalists will have to adapt higher or modern technology. He said that usually, when a businessman will apply high and costly technology to the business, measures to assure his return of investments and profit may be made by implementing higher electric billing.

Another measure may be to lessen the number of the employees. “I am not a lawyer but I think it will be a legal move and the possibility of employees losing their jobs is always there,” he said. # nordis.net

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