Workers under the aegis of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), have threatened to resume their recently suspended industrial action, if the government failed to implement agreement reached with them.
Joe Ajaero, General Secretary of NUEE, at the 6th quadrennial/11th national delegates conference of the union, in Lagos over the weekend, declared that the agreement signed with union, which necessitated the suspension of the strike, should be implemented to avert another strike.
The strike embarked upon by the union on December 11, 2019, had left the country in total darkness, as workers, offices of various electricity distribution companies were locked up and businesses in the power sector prevented from operations.
The action was suspended the following day, December 12, after the representatives of the federal government and others concerned, signed an agreement to look into the workers’ demands.
However, Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC), their senior counterparts in the power sector, have countered NUEE, saying the suspended strike was illegally prosecuted by the junior employee union, as conditions to embark on the strike were not duly followed.
Chris Okonkwo, President General of SSAEAC, told journalists at the event, that they have written a letter to the minister of labour and employment, as well as that of power, and that a copy was also sent to the ptesidency, detailing why the strike was a wrong approach approach.
The workers, through NUEE, had accused the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), of failure to fully pay the over 2,000 disengaged workers of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) since 2013.
They also alleged underpayment of severance of over 50,000 ex-PHCN staff, and illegal transfer of schools built by the union to investors.
They further accused power generation companies of refusing to sign condition of service and rules of engagement, while some distribution companies reportedly refused to pay retirement benefits to electricity workers.
Ajaero said the union was eagerly waiting for the implementation of these demands as captured in the agreement, or the workers would return to the trenches.
Meanwhile, both NUEE and SSAEAC have agreed there was the need for an urgent intervention in the power sector to save it from imminent collapse.
According to Ajaero, the government should declare an emergency in the power, as Nigerians were totally dissatisfied with the situation in the sector.
He stated that it was obvious to everyone that those in charge of the sector have no blueprint on how to move it forward.
“We cannot continue to lament. Let the ministers of power and others tell Nigerians the situation in the power sector.
“Let them tell us that in the next six months, this is what we should expect and in the next one year, this is what will happen. Let them tell us the short, medium and long term plans for the power sector and how they want to achieve them.
“If they do not have, we think there is need to declare an emergency in the power sector
“There is need for us to sit down to discuss the way forward. All stakeholders should join hands to rescue the sector from collapse. Nobody is happy with what is happening in the sector. Nigerians are not happy.
“The level at which our members are being assaulted, harassed and beaten up are increasing. Nigerians are venting their frustration on the power situation our members,”Ajaero said.