Bacolod City – Power Watch Negros, a consumer rights advocates group, expressed its strong disapproval to the recent implementation of excessive salary increases that will benefit about 80 supervisors and confidential employees of Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO).
The “big time” salary increases, within the range of P4,000 to P5,000 per month, was done surreptitiously at a time when CENECO is suffering from financial hemorrhage due to its huge financial indebtedness to banks and power suppliers, the group said.
Power Watch secretary general Wennie Sancho said the salary increase to be implemented by CENECO will be retroactive, starting October 2022. This is an abuse of management prerogative in as much as CENECO supervisors are already receiving salaries of about P50,000 per month on the average, plus fat bonuses, allowances and other forms of emoluments.
While CENECO consumers are reeling from the high cost of electricity, the supervisors and confidential employees are enjoying their exceptional salary increases in confusing abundance, he said.
Sancho recalled that during a CENECO consumers’ assembly on October 2, 2022, he inquired from the CENECO Board of Directors (BOD’s) during the open forum, if there was an increase in the salaries of the supervisors. Their answer was a resounding no. But now, three months after that assembly, salary increases were implemented.
“Who is telling the truth? Again, the consumers were hoodwinked. Isn’t it another stab in the back?”, he asked, adding that it is too much.
Sancho also recalled that there were rebates in CENECO consumers’ monthly electric bills for the month of December 2022 due to market dictated prices, such as the decrease in the price of coal in the world market and the exclusion of the feed-in-tariff among others.
“Unfortunately, the rebates only served as a subterfuge or smokescreen to conceal the mysterious implementation of this excessive wage increases. While rebates brought a sigh of relief, we were taken aback by this exorbitant wage increases,” he said.
For Power Watch this practice of pampering the supervisors with excessive wage increase is arbitrary, whimsical and capricious at the chronic expense of the consumers. It is also a form of arrogance, an abuse of power and a manifestation of mismanagement despite of CENECO being an ailing cooperative, Sancho said.
Those who were responsible for this irresponsible decision violated the austerity measures imposed by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to an electric cooperative, he said.
The proponents of this unethical scheme are behaving as if they are the owners of CENEC0 by invoking their absolute prerogative to approve salary increases to those whom they like or favored, and nobody can stop or question them making CENECO a milking cow, Sancho said.
This is an added form of injustice to the consumers who are being made to pay for the power supply that they did not use due to incompetent contracting and lopsided power supply agreement, he said adding that this is also a form of discrimination to the rank and file CENECO employees whose Collective Bargaining Agreement package was appealed by the management with the Secretary of Labor.
Sancho said there should be a total revamp of CENECO management from top to the bottom in order to cleanse it from the graft and corruption which he alleges has been part of its system.
The consumers would always be at the losing end because the people who had been sworn to serve and protect the welfare of the consumers were allegedly captured by the power suppliers. In the process the power supply procurement has been allegedly riddled with graft and corruption, he said.
CENECO management has to explain the basis of the salary increase, and this should be covered by a resolution, Sancho added. (Chrysee Semillano via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)