Industrial unrest looms in power sector

*Labour accuses govt of violating agreement

Victor Ahiuma-Young

03 April 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – INDICATION of a looming industrial unrest in Nigeria’s power sector over claims by three workers’ unions in the sector that the government, through the Ministry of Power, has breached agreement reached with them.

The unions have already petitioned the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, intimating him with the perceived breaches and the impending industrial unrest should their grievances remained unaddressed after March 31.

Sweetcrude gathered that if urgent steps are not taken to address the grievances of the unions, days ahead could witness industrial action by workers raising fears of further worsening of the power situation in the country.

The three unions; of Electricity Employees, NUEE, Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, SSAEAC, and the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, Electricity sector, listed not less than areas where they claimed their agreement with the Federal Government was breached.

In the petition, NUEE, SSAEAC and NUP, lamented that it was quite unfortunate that they had subsisting collective agreements with Government on several issues yet they (unions) were still being trivialized, arguing that “it is worrisome that Government is running away from abiding with product of social dialogue/ negotiation.”

In the petition by Joe AJaero and Mansur Musa, General Secretary and President of NUEE, respectively; Abiodun Ogunsegha and Bede Opara, General Secretary and President General of SSAEAC, respectively and Olukayode Ogunbiyi and Temple Ubani, Secretary and President of NUP Electricity Sector respectively, said “agreed in the last round of negotiation that the Corporate Headquarters of PHCN shall remain with full complement of staff until the final liquidation of PHCN when all the labour issues would have been resolved.

Barely one week after this agreement was reached, the Power Ministry directed that LPCs (Last Pay Certificates) of employees purportedly transferred to new companies be raised and issued.

This remains one of the very disturbing issues discussed at the Negotiation and we maintained that it would be inappropriate to transfer staff from one company (a holding company) to another (successor company) without determining the status of employment of the concerned employees.”

“Though, Government agreed that PHCN cannot be liquidated without complying with the required legal process but it amounts to inconsistency if action is being taken to wind down its headquarters by transferring its workers out, without concluding the negotiations and its implementation. Status quo ante should therefore be maintained to uphold the sanctity of PHCN Corporate Headquarters in line with the collective agreement reached in this regard.”

“Though 50% salary increase was agreed to as final settlement of the balance of 137% negotiated salary increase, effective 1stJune, 2011, it is distasteful to report.

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