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Electricity Workers Brace Up for Industrial Action


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Nigeria

Electricity Workers Brace Up for Industrial Action

By Linda Eroke


Organised labour in the nation’s power sector is warming up for a showdown with Federal Government over the refusal of government to honour agreement reached with the in-house unions.

The labour leaders are also planning to move against alleged plan by management of PHCN to secretly retrench a sizeable number of workers as part of the ongoing reform in the sector.

Already, the two in-house unions in the sector, the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and its Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied, Companies (SSAEAC) have alerted the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu, and Chief Negotiator on Power Reform, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu, on current crisis in the industry, and have also given indication of a showdown with government.

The workers are agitated that the agreement signed with government on the 50 per cent salary increment and regularisation of 10,000 casuals into full employment has not been implemented.

The labour leaders accused the Power Minister, Prof. Barth Nnaji, of issuing directives of management of PHCN to downsize its workforce rather than facilitate the process that will lead to amicable resolution of labour issues.

They warned that they would take every necessary action to move against any form of rationalisation of members.

In a petition to the labour minister, NUEE accused the management of PHCN of conspiring with the ministry secretly sack a large percentage of PHCN workers in the name of privatisation. The union threatened to shut down the sector should the Minister fail to jettison the plan.

The union described the move as “unwarranted and tantamount to gross violations of existing labour legislations”.
The letter signed by NUEE General Secretary, Comrade Joe Ajaero, warned that the move may scuttle the ongoing negotiations between the Federal Government and PHCN in-house unions.

The petition titled, ‘Plan to rationalise PHCN worker uncovered’, read in part “It has become necessary to inform you of the subterranean move by the Minister of Power to sack a sizeable percentage of the PHCN’s workforce. We are not unaware that the Chief Executive Officers in the industry are already working secretly to execute the directive of the Minister in this regard.

“This is unwarranted and tantamount to gross violation of existing labour legislations. It is our fervent belief that you facilitated the on-going negotiation between the government and PHCN’s in-House unions in view of the resolve of all parties to sheathe their swords towards creating enabling environment for a fruitful conclusion of the negotiation.

“Suffice to say therefore that, if this illegal action is carried out, the negotiation should be regarded to have been deliberately scuttled by government through the Minister of Power. We are using this medium to put your Ministry on notice of our ‘immediate reaction’ if the planned action is not jettisoned,” the letter added.

In a similar manner, the senior staff counterpart, SAEAC has also vowed to confront the management of PHCN over the alleged plan to sack a sizeable number of PHCN, workers.

The union, in a petition letter to the Power Minister, Prof. Barth Nnaji urged him to withdraw the directive until all labour issues have been resolved. The union emphasised that it will not hesitate to “fight any force or institution that will attempt to deprive its members of their fundamental rights”.

SSAEAC, in a letter to the Minister, urged him to jettison the idea to avoid industrial unrest, insisting that the association would not tolerate any form of victimisation of its members.

The union recalled that the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) resolution had expressly stated that all labour issues must precede bidding and sale of any public company.

The letter, jointly signed by SSAEAC President, Comrade Bede Opara, and Secretary General, Comrade Abiodun Ogunsegha, reads: “We wish to bring to your knowledge the fact that before your appointment as Minister, President Goodluck Jonathan had appointed a Negotiator/Conciliator to look into and resolve the Labour issues in the Power Sector, before the Planned Reforms.

“We draw your attention to the outcomes of 1st and 2nd meetings chaired by the same Negotiator/Conciliator at Abuja and Ghana wherein it was explicitly stated that no action prejudicial to the final outcome of the negotiations should be undertaken by any side.

Consequently your earlier memo to PHCN management and BPE to the effect that promotions are suspended was withdrawn to pave way for the negotiations.

“We specifically draw your attention to the outcome of Ghana round of talks, the summary of which is that Government did not show commitment to the process by implementing the outcome of the Abuja round of meetings,” the letter read.

As part of efforts to resolve the lingering labour crisis in the sector ahead of the reform in the power sector, FG had appointed the founding President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, (NLC) and current Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), Hassan Sunmonu as its chief negotiator/conciliator in the outstanding labour issues between it and PHCN workers.

The appointment of Sunmonu was to ensure that labour unions were carried along in the Power Sector Reform process and for peaceful/speedy resolution of all labour issues in PHCN.

 

 

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Updated 7 Years ago
 

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