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Another Nationwide Blackout looms as Electricity Workers Give 14-Day Ultimatum to Resume Strike

Electricity workers are set to resume the industrial action they suspended about seven weeks ago after reaching an agreement with the federal government.

The workers, under the auspices of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), yesterday issued a 14-day ultimatum to resume strike if the federal government fails to implement the December 11, 2019 agreement.

NUEE General Secretary, Mr. Joe Ajaero, wednesday in Lagos, accused the Minister of State for Power, Mr. Jeddy Agba, of harassment and intimidation during the union’s negotiations on challenges affecting workers in the sector.

He said if the issues were not addressed at the end of the 14-day ultimatum, the country should hold the minister responsible for the strike.

Ajaero told reporters in Lagos that though government agencies had intervened in the matter, the demands had not been addressed.

He said at the centre of the dispute was the non-payment of the entitlements of workers of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) laid off when the company was privatised as well as “short-payment and conditions of service for workers of electricity companies.”

“Because of the nature of the generating companies, where they were sited, were excluded from where people were living and the union decided to build schools for the kids of our members in such areas.

“The Power Sector Reform Act provides that power stations be handed over to some investors but not the primary schools which were seized. By virtue of the Act, even if there are buildings, it is the Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company that will take them, not the GenCos,” he added.

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On the issue of non-payment of the entitlement of the disengaged workers of the defunct PHCN, he said the union had taken up the matter with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) in the last six years without a breakthrough.

“On two or three occasions, we have had cause to lock up the office of the BPE and they will tell us that they have cleared up some names waiting for the Accountant-General of the Federation to pay but up to this moment nothing has happened,” Ajaero stated.

The union had last December embarked on a one-day warning strike that threw the entire nation into total blackout.
The strike led to the shutting down of most of the offices of Distribution Companies (Discos) across the country.

But following a meeting with officials of the federal government, the union accepted to return to work.

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