Monday, February 6, 2012

TNB issues need immediate attention

By Ahmad A Talib | 0 comments

Unions in this essential service sector at odds with its chief executive officer CEO Datuk Seri Che Khalib Mohd Noh. Tenaga Nasional Berhad CEO Datuk Seri Che Khalib Mohd Noh had recently expressed interest in leaving his post.

IS something brewing at Tenaga Nasional Berhad? When its employee spokesmen representing some 20,000 staff speak out against its chief executive officer, I think the relevant authorities need to get to the bottom of the matter. And fast.

At a press conference on Thursday, the TNB Executives Associations, the Amalgamated Union of TNB Employees and the TNB Junior Officers Union made known their views against the management, in particular the chief executive officer.

In the past, these unions had privately voiced out their disagreements with the CEO, Datuk Seri Che Khalib Mohd Noh. Industrial relationship was said to be one of the main issues.

That CK (short for Che Khalib, the staff's way of referring to the CEO) was not of TNB rank and file had led these unions to question him.

This should not be a strong enough reason to dislike CK, but the unions were adamant that a CEO chosen from within the company would do a better job.

Recently, when CK had expressed interest in leaving his post, the unions insisted that an internal appointee would be preferred.

Appointing a CEO is the prerogative of the board actually, but the unions saw no harm in giving their views.

The unions have gone to cyberspace to air their grievances. A blog -- -- contains articles expressing the union's displeasure of CK. In fact, the unions also write about their lack of confidence in the chief executive.

Other issues highlighted by the union include: getting outsiders to fill key senior posts, ignoring internal talent; scrapping the monthly meter-reading of household electricity consumption and replacing it with actual reading every other month; and outsourcing jobs which the unions feel will lead to the diminishing of skill sets by TNB employees.

The relevant authorities should not treat the views of the unions lightly. They represent not just the rank and file employees, but the executives and technicians as well.

In any situation, support from these employees and healthy employee-management relationship would go a long way towards efficiency and productivity of the utility company.

In any other situation, the unions may appear to be out of line or speaking out of turn in suggesting, let alone demanding, who should be their CEO. But the unions' call should be seen as a cry for help, or a signal for potentially troubling days ahead.

It must be recalled that the last time TNB unions staged a protest against the management was in 2006. Regardless of who is appointed TNB chief executive, the fact remains we cannot afford any industrial unrest. Not at this point in time, or at any other point in time.

Many staff members recalled fondly the days when Datuk Seri Jamaludin Jarjis was the chairman of TNB.

They remember the days and nights when Jamaludin would stop by the roadside to chat or have coffee with them when they were on duty laying cables or during breakdown duties.

The unions had also hinted they were unhappy with some of the policies initiated by the management, such as the outsourcing of certain services. They believed that this would lead to the gradual redundancy of some staff (read union busting).

A senior official once claimed that CK, at a meet-the-staff-session, had questioned the trust and loyalty of some employees. The official said such expression did not go down well with many employees, and this had impacted morale to some extent.

Whether CK gets his wish to quit or not, and whether his successor is an internal appointee or otherwise, the fact remains that managing 20,000 employees, and in an essential service sector at that, requires a caring heart and a visionary mind.

Read more: TNB issues need immediate attention - Columnist - New Straits Times