Electricity workers suspend strike for 2 weeks

Electricity transmission towers

. As TCN struggles to restore power

Electricity workers, yesterday, agreed to suspend for two weeks their nationwide strike, which plunged many parts of the country into darkness, following an intervention by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.

Ngige had summoned an emergency conciliation meeting between the Federal Government and the electricity workers on Wednesday to resolve the issues that triggered the industrial action.

The electricity workers under the joint umbrella of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), and Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEC), had embarked on a nationwide strike to protest unresolved issues.

The issues concern the alleged contravention in their conditions of service and career progression, stigmatisation of electricity staff by the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, and refusal of the market operators to fund the payment of entitlements of ex-PHCN staff as agreed in the December 2019 agreement.

Confirming the suspension of the industrial action after the meeting, which lasted about four hours, the President of NUEE, Comrade Joe Ajero, expressed the hope that the Federal Government will act in good faith on the issues in dispute which have lingered for years.

He told journalists that the unions agreed to hold their peace for two weeks to enable the government to address their grievances.

Similarly, the President of SSAEC, Chika Ben, assured that the matter will be resolved before it escalates, adding that power supply will be restored nationwide.

Bipartite committee

On his part, Ngige informed that after exhaustive deliberations on the issues in dispute, the parties agreed to constitute a bipartite committee to look into the workers’ grievances and report back in two weeks.

He listed the members of the committee to include the Minister of State for Power, Jeddy Agba (Chairman); Permanent Secretaries, Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF); General Services, Office of the Head of Service of the Federation (HoS); and Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Also included were representatives of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and two representatives from NUEE and SSAEC.

Also present at the meeting were the Minister of State, Power, Jeddy Agba; the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ms. Daju Kachollom; Managing Director, Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Sule Ahmed Abdulaziz; and the Chairman, TCN Board, Imamuddeen Talba, while the BPE, SGF, and Office of the HoS were represented.

…after exhaustive deliberations on the issues in dispute, the parties agreed to constitute a bipartite committee to look into the workers’ grievances and report back in two weeks.

Restoring power, dispute

Meanwhile, the TCN has assured it is working to restore power and resolve the industrial dispute with the electricity workers, even as it confirmed the shutdown of the national grid by the two in-house unions. The grid had already collapsed seven times this year.

The General Manager, Public Affairs, TCN, Ndidi Mbah, in a statement yesterday, said: “The incident occurred at 15:01Hrs, today after several 330kV transmission lines and 33kV feeder-lines across the power system network had been switched off by the union members, resulting in generation-load imbalance and multiple voltage escalations at critical stations and substations.”

The statement further reads: “Regrettably, this is coming weeks after we had emerged from a hectic grid management regime, precipitated by the paucity of generation, which we grappled with for a couple of months.

“It would be recalled, in tandem with the initiative of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission on Partial Activation of Contracts coupled with the stream of interventions by the ministry of power and other stakeholders in the value chain-grid generation (at Peak) had reached 4,830.69MW as at yesterday, the 16th of August, 2022.

“In spite of this setback, we are set to restore the grid as quickly as possible. The ministries of power and labour & employment are currently meeting with the union Officials in order to resolve the issues.

“The Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry appreciates the understanding of our customers — within and outside the country. Enduring mechanisms are being instituted to avert a situation of this kind, going forward.”

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