“Improved Power Won’ t Last” – Labour Union

“Improved Power Won’ t Last” –
Labour Union

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Organised labour in the electricity sector has
warned that the current power supply in the
country is not sustainable even as it gives
reasons Nigerians are experiencing improved
power supply.
Speaking through the National Union of
Electricity Employees, NUEE, labour said the
rainy season, the President Muhammadu Buhari
factor and steady supply of gas to power plants
were the major reasons for the improved power
supply.
“During this time of the year, there is always a
slight improvement in power supply because of
the rise in water level. That is, the lake goes up
and hydro power stations generate more power.
Second is the Buhari factor which has made
operator to sit up and added to that, before now,
the gas pipelines were usually vandalized,” said
Joe Ajaero, the General Secretary of NUEE.
“We suspect it may be in collaboration by some
highly placed individuals who award contracts for
the pipelines to be repaired which runs into
billions of Naira. If the pipelines are vandalized
and the contracts are awarded for repairs,
almost every two months, it is big money for
them. I think that because of the fear that those
who engaged in the business may be caught, for
now there is relative peace and the gas pipelines
are delivering gas to the power plants. But we
fear the current power situation may not be
sustainable. Once the rainy season ends and the
water level drops, there will be problem. Again,
today all power being generated is being pumped
into the system, there is no reserve in case of
any break down, and there is no reserve in case
of maintenance and so on. We ought to have
reserve for emergencies. Sadly, we do not have
that at the moment.”
Speaking on the recent NUEE face-off with Port
Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company,
PHEDC, Ajaero said though the Department of
State Service, DSS, and the police, attempted to
wade in, they had nothing to do with industrial
relations.
Ajaero warned that next time, the management
of PHEDC would not find it easy, saying “Though
the 18 successor companies have disdain for
union, at least, in others, there is union
management relationship. Though we don’t agree
on a lot of issues, we meet and discuss, but
PHEDC does not want to discuss. The next time
we are biting them, we are going to bite them
hard. This one is just an example. We went to
Industrial Arbitration Panel, IAP, and the
management said they were not going to respect
the ruling of IAP. They wrote to us a letter that
they had appealed to the National Industrial
Court, NIC, but, till now, we have not seen the
appeal. Nevertheless, the issues now are not the
matters presented at IAP. They wanted to use
that excuse of being in court to continue to
perpetuate anti-labour practices.
“The current arrangement in the power sector
makes it easier for us to select a place and deal
with the issues there. Before now, it would have
been a nationwide action. We have perfected our
plan so that there could be power outage in Port
Harcourt, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa without
the action affecting other states. We feel sorry
for the residents of these states plan who
experienced power outage during the action, and
we pray that we will not be forced to take a
similar action again. If we take this action again,
the management won’t see anyone to negotiate
with. Electricity sector is a unionised sector.
“At privatisation, the first six months was a
transition period from Power Holding Company of
Nigeria, PHCN, to the new investors. What were
transferred to new investors were the files of the
workers and grades, only Port Harcourt claimed
that the membership of the union was not
transferred. Even for the six months that nobody
was meant to talk, they did not pay their dues.
None of the workers has withdrawn his
membership of the union. The IAP told them to
pay the dues they owed. Someone who was
receiving N150,000 before was paid N30,000 and
when they complained, the management sacked
30 of them. That is the level of impunity going
on there. They sacked without discussion with
the union. That impunity has to stop.”
Daily Times source

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