07 August 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – TRADE Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, has called on the Minister of Power, Professor Barth Nnaji, to resolve all pending labour issues in order to have smooth reforms and privatization of the sector.
President-General of TUC, Comrade Peter Esele, who spoke in Abuja, warned that any attempt to side track labour issues, would spell doom for the privatization process.
According to him, “the Minister in charge of the Industry should quickly and honestly resolve all labour related issues within the sector, so that his stated plans for the sector may be accomplished not on the sufferings and impoverishment of the workers, but on sound principles, processes and motives”.
He urged the minister to resist attempt to shove the workers aside, as this would be resisted by Nigerian workers not only as represented by Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, SSAEAC, and the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, but by every Nigerian worker as represented by the Labour centers.
He maintained that “the present use of the instruments of the Federal Ministry of Labour, Employment and Productivity and sometimes the National Industrial Court NIC, to stop workers in the industry from defending themselves may eventually backfire. The only way to go is for the Ministry to bring sincerity and fidelity to the negotiation table”.
He urged him to “resolve the issues rather than trying to bulldoze its way despite the injuries it will inflict on thousands of workers and their respective families and dependents.”
Similarly, the two unions in the industry called on Federal Government to ensure that labour issues are settled for a seamless privatization of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.
Under the aegis of the Senior Staff of Association of Electricity and
Allied Companies, SSAEAC, and the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, gave the advise at an sensitization programme in Lagos.
General Secretary of NUEE, Comrade Joe Ajaero, said that the unions were confronted with issues of negotiation with government which had lingered for the past fourteen months.
He said that despite all the effort of the unions to let the government understand the reasons why workers benefit must be paid before folding up PHCN, “nothing concrete has been achieved by both unions. We have been discussing with government in the last fourteen months now, on workers benefits but we cannot achieve any concrete agreement.”
Ajaero however, urged the Federal Government to be more sincere in their move to privatize the power sector, and settlement of workers benefits before the final taking over of the sector by the private investors, saying “We are asking for what belong to us, not separating us from our job when it is not time. Even if we are leaving PHCN today, they should settle us for what we have done.”