18 April 2014

Nigeria: Blackout Imminent in Southern Nigeria As NLC Issues Ultimatum

The poor electricity supply across Nigeria may worsen in the southern part of the country if a threat by workers is carried out.

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, on Thursday issued a seven-day ultimatum to the federal government and the investors in the power sector to resolve issues related to the working condition of workers of the former Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.

The congress, after a meeting with the officials of the Nigeria Union of Electricity Employees NUEE, in Akure, said government should address the issues raised before the expiration of the ultimatum in order to guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the power sector.

The meeting was attended by NLC leadership from the southwest, south south, Kwara, and Kogi. It was held to deliberate on issues, grievances and matters relating to the working condition of members, particularly those disengaged by the new owners.

According to a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting and read by the chairperson of NLC in Ondo State, Bosede Daramola, the meeting also frowned at the epileptic power supply in the country, lamenting the alleged exploitation of Nigerians by the buyers of the electricity distribution companies.

The union also said the ongoing actions of the new investors to de-unionise workers is unacceptable. It called on the federal government to caution the investors.

"The meeting in session condemn(s) in strong terms the victimization of labour leaders and the failure of the federal government to call the investors in the power sector to order in tandem with the tripartite agreement reached with the organised labour on 13th January, 2014 so as to promote industrial harmony which is key to our national productivity.

"The meeting in session called on the federal government and all the companies to as a matter of national interest for a prosperous economy address all the issues canvassed within seven days from the date of this communiqué in order to guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the power sector as the labour movement will resist any attempt to balkanise the movement by either individual or group in whatever disguise or name.

"That the labour movement should not be held responsible for any action taken to drive home their demands if the government fails to address the issues after the expiration of the seven days ultimatum," the communiqué reads.

The union called on the federal government to urgently direct the recall of all union leaders disengaged as a result of transfer of ownership of the power companies to the private sector.

In his reaction, the General Secretary of NUEE, Joe Ajero, said the investors in the power sector had been making life miserable for members of the union.

Mr. Ajero, who spoke through the Central Executive Committee member, Benson Okorodudu, said the investors had been trying to ensure that the workers are not heard.

He said those that had laboured to keep the system going and agreed with government on the privatisation were being made to suffer; as their entitlements were not paid to them.

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