Electricity Workers’ Strike: We Are Having Discussions With Labour – FG

A file photo of a powerline.
A file photo of a powerline.

 

The Federal Government has stated that it is holding discussions with the organized labour in order to proffer resolution to various issues which have led electricity workers in the country to embark on a strike. 

The Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu disclosed this to State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by the President on Wednesday.

He stated that the issues in contention center around employment which is largely under the purview of the Head of Service and not the Ministry of Power.


READ ALSO: Electricity Workers’ Strike: NUEE Shuts Down TCN Regional Station In Kaduna


The Mr Aliyu noted that the discussions have reached an advanced stage and it is for this reason that the Minister of Labour as well as the Minister of State for power were absent at the executive council meeting.

He further asserted that a quick resolution is expected in no time.

The power minister equally explained that the country is unable to reach its promised target of 5,000 megawatts of electricity generation because of a shortage in gas supply.

He noted that the government is equally intensifying discussions on the challenge and has also entered into a firm contract with the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) Plc.

The minister, however, stressed that power fluctuation would continue until the gas contract issues which has inhibited the 5,000 MW target by Q2 of 2022, are resolved.

Workers Embark On Strike In Ogun Over Unpaid Benefits

Workers in Ogun State held a rally on June 27, 2022, ahead of a planned strike.
Workers in Ogun State held a rally on June 27, 2022, ahead of a planned strike.

 

The organized labour in Ogun state has directed the state workforce to commence a full blown and indefinite industrial action.

The action is expected to commence by 12am on Tuesday.

They are seeking to press home their demands for better conditions of service.

READ ALSO: Ngige Did Not Invite Us To Any Meeting On Thursday – ASUU

At a Congress held at the arcade ground of the governor’s office in the state capital, Abeokuta, the workers maintained that this has become imperative in view of many failed promises by the state government.

The workers are demanding the payment of outstanding deductions, contributory pension and review of the Ogun state pension law among others.

Strike: Ngige Did Not Invite Us To Any Meeting On Thursday – ASUU  

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says the Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige did not invite the union for a meeting.

Ngige had after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday said he will be meeting with the union to continue discussions about the lingering strike embarked on by ASUU.

But ASUU president Emmanuel Osodeke said the union was not informed about any meeting with the Federal Government.

“We were not invited to any meeting. None of our members was invited. We have a secretariat but we never got any invitation from them,” the ASUU leader said in an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Thursday.

“The problem we have with this government, especially with the minister of labour, is that if you can tell the world that you have fixed a meeting which you didn’t, how do you expect us to believe other things you have said?

“He should confirm to the world that he sent an invitation to ASUU for a meeting on Thursday.”

READ ALSO: ASUU Strike Will Be Resolved Soon, Ngige Assures Nigerians

‘ Hunger as a Weapon’

In this file photo, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, chairs a reconciliatory meeting between the Federal Government and ASUU in Abuja on February 22, 2022.

 

Professor Osodeke asked the labour minister to leave negotiations with the union.

“The minister of labour should leave us to deal with the minister of education. He was the one that made this matter worse to this extent,” he said.

“He was the one that decided to use hunger as a weapon when he said no work no pay.”

ASUU, which embarked on the latest round of strikes since February 14, cited the government’s non-implementation of agreements reached with the union.

Ngige had earlier assured Nigerians that the protracted action will be resolved soon, saying the Federal Government is determined to see public universities reopened.

‘Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum’: Obi Tells Nigerians To Take Back Country

A file photo of former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi

 

Peter Obi has called on Nigerians to take back the country, claiming the nation’s political space has been taken over by those he described as “lunatics”.

The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) believes many of those in the political space do not have business being there.

“Seventy per cent of those who are in politics today should not have any reason to be near there. I have said it before and I will say it again. Politics in Nigeria is a case where lunatics took over the asylum. They must be out.” the former governor of Anambra State said on Sunday’s ‘Men of Valour’ conference organised by the Revival House of Glory International Church (RHOGIC), Abuja.

“You must replace that asylum with people who are competent. This is the only country where the worst is leading; the best should lead. I have served there; I am a trader and I started gradually and entered into politics.”

According to him, some persons in leadership positions who loot public funds are not greedy but “sick”.

READ ALSO: [APC Ticket] When I Was Almost Fed Up, I Resorted To Prayers – Tinubu

“How do you think about one person taking N80 billion? $200m? That is sickness. It is not greed. The person is greedy. Greed is taking one N1 billion which he is not entitled to but taking N80 billion is sickness. That is a simple truth. And that’s why I said mad people have taken over,” he said in the programme tagged ‘Navigating the Corridors of Power, the Church, and the Politics’.

According to him, more competent people should take over governance as that is the only way to reposition the country just as he accused political parties of having no ideology.

He, however, believes that “If we get more young people who have the competence and capacity to be there, they can start developing these things” he said.

Obi dismissed claims that his party does not have the structure to challenge the two main parties – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“It is about the people. The people have allowed some group of persons to hijack their country,” he said.

“That is why I have said take back your country. It is not theirs. We can’t allow this gangsterism to continue.”

The presidential candidate recalled that when he was contesting as the governor of Anambra State, there were claims that he had no structure, maintaining that “the people will decide what they want. Not anybody”.

Labour Rights Critical To Inclusive Development – NHRC

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has urged government at all levels to observe international best practices in handling labour-related matters.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission Tony Ojukwu (SAN) stated this as Nigeria joins the rest of the global community to commemorate the 2022 International Workers Day (IWD).

He stated that prioritising the rights of workers is critical given that human resources remain the drivers of development in any clime.

Read Also: [Labour Day] Workers Hold Rallies, Advocate For Better Welfare

He further stated that entrenching good working relations between employers and employees both in the government and private sectors in Nigeria will bring about industrial harmony rather than suspicion, tension, and strike which all come with their attendant negative tolls on the society.

Chief Ojukwu (SAN) observed that Nigeria as a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), cannot afford to renege on the acceptable standards of relationship with the workforce.

The Chief Human Rights Officer opined that it is interesting to note that Nigeria as a Member of the ILO has always deployed dialogue as a mechanism for addressing disagreements and grievances involving Labour, adding that continuing in that manner will not only portray the nation in good light but also reinforce the confidence of workers in the government.

On the current strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and three other labour unions, the NHRC Boss enjoined the federal government to expedite action to resolve the current impasse with ASUU so as not to further endanger the right to education of the university students who have lost an academic year as a result of the unfortunate strike.

“Incessant ASUU strike has continued to constitute a major threat to the right to Education of students of our tertiary institutions especially the public Universities where the grater population of our youth attend”.

The human rights Czar regretted that the University strikes deform qualitative and productive education for the Nigerian youth and consequently, “education which is regarded as the fulcrum for national development is truncated” he lamented.

He said the ongoing ASUU strike has also taken an ugly toll on the lives and livelihood of family members of the affected lecturers as most of them reportedly find it difficult to cope with the basic responsibilities of taking care of their families.

The Executive Secretary is therefore using the opportunity of the IWD to call on the government to call the ASUU back to the negotiation table, pointing out that while the union cannot have all their demands met at once, the government could intervene to urgently take care of the most disturbing demands, pending when more resources are available to do more.

According to the learned Senior Advocate of Nigeria, it is not in doubt that most of the demands being made by ASUU are genuine, saying that merited allowances, improved facilities and infrastructures are not in any way bogus expectations that cannot be taken care of, considering the positive effects these will have on our universities.

He stated that the preference of University Transparent Accountability Solution (UTAS) to IPPIS by ASUU is something that the government could look into with a view to possibly making some necessary adjustments that will be favourable to both parties.

He called on all the parties to use the opportunity of this year’s IWD to resolve all issues outstanding on the strike and get the students back to school and stop the further violation of their right to education and development.

[UPDATE] FG Rejects 21-Day Ultimatum Issued By NMA

NMA logo

 

The Ministry of Labour and Employment has rejected the 21-day ultimatum given to the Federal Government by the Nigeria Medical Association saying it is in direct collision with the Memorandum of Understanding signed on August 21.

The NMA had threatened to join the ongoing strike by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors if the government failed to resolve all the issues contained in the various agreements signed with its affiliate unions.

But reacting on Sunday evening, to the threat in a statement titled, ‘Labour Ministry to NMA: Your 21-Day Ultimatum in Collision With Our MoU,’ the government argued that the NMA’s position was at variance with the timeline stated in the Memorandum of Agreement.

Read Also: NMA Issues FG 21-Day Ultimatum To Resolve Industrial Disputes With NARD, Others

This ultimatum was part of the resolutions reached during its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, held in Benin City last week.

“After due consideration, NEC put the Federal Government on a 21 days’ notice to fully resolve all the issues contained in the various agreements signed with Affiliate members of the Nigerian Medical Association (including MDCAN, MEDSABAMS, and NARD),” the statement jointly signed by its President, Prof Innocent AO Ujah and Secretary, Dr. Philips Uche Ekpe, read.

According to the doctors, if the Federal Government fails to implement the agreements after the expiration of the 21- day notice, the NMA will summon an emergency delegate meeting.

NMA’s ultimatum is the latest in the lingering tussle between the Nigerian government and NARD which has gone on strike since July 31.

Despite a series of meetings between the Federal Government and the striking doctors, no resolution has been reached.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had in the wake of the disagreements threatened to invoke the “no-work, no pay” rule on NARD.

But the NMA has thrown its weight behind the striking doctors and other health workers.

“The Nigerian Medical Association fully supports all her affiliates in their efforts to improve the healthcare delivery in Nigeria and the welfare of her members,” it assured.

Why I Won’t Meet With Striking Resident Doctors – Labour Minister

 

The Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige, has said that he will not be meeting with the striking resident doctors.

According to the minister who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Friday, he has better use of his time.

“I have other things to do,” he said, adding, “I did two conciliations again yesterday, am I going to keep wasting time with them?”.

“As of the 22nd (of July), they said they were happy, they were praising me, saying I am kind, I am compassionate, advising public servants in Nigeria to behave like me. Where government officials are wrong, I tell them, and I give them an ultimatum and time frame to perfect whatever it is, so why do you go on strike one week after?” Ngige questioned.

Reacting to the doctors’ stance that the strike which commenced on Monday, will be indefinite, the minister said “No problem! I have other tools permitted for me by labour laws. I invoked section 43 this afternoon”.

Section 43 of the Labour Act states, in part, that for the period a worker withdraws his services, the government or his employers are not entitled to pay.

“I have communicated it to NARD,” Ngige said, stressing that “they will not receive money for the period they are on strike and it will never count as a period for pensionable position in their career”.

As essential workers, the minister also maintained that they are not expected to go on strike without notifying him at least 15 days prior.

[Read Also] Strike: Stand Up To Your Responsibilities, Resident Doctors Tell FG

“They are taking government for a ride and they are playing with people’s lives,” he added.

While the doctors continue to call on the government to fully take up its responsibilities, the Federal Government continues to insist that most of the issues they have raised are state affairs.

Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire had told journalists in Abuja on Thursday that seven of 12 matters that were raised by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), were the responsibility of state governments.

Consequently, he expects the resident doctors to resume work on Friday and take up the issues with the state governments rather than embark on the nationwide strike as they had done.

But speaking on behalf of resident doctors on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Friday, NARD President Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi criticised the Federal Government for failing to do its own job but rather blaming the doctors for embarking on industrial action.

“You can’t have signed an agreement with everything you have said and since 2nd of August when the strike commenced you haven’t called us,” he said.

NLC Suspends Strike In Kaduna

 

The Nigeria Labour Congress has suspended its five days warning strike in Kaduna State.

Announcing the suspension, the NLC President,  Ayuba Wabba said the decision is to honour the invitation of the Federal Government on Thursday to mediate in the dispute between labour and the Kaduna State Government.

Earlier today, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige waded into the ongoing face-off between the Kaduna State government and labour unions by inviting both parties to a reconciliation meeting.

READ ALSO: Wabba Leads Day Three Of NLC Protest In Kaduna

The meeting scheduled to hold at the Ministry of Labour and Employment in the Federal Secretariat, Abuja is to be attended by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El Rufai and top officials of the State; s well as the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress,  Ayuba Wabba and top NLC leaders.

File photo of NLC members embarking on a strike in Kaduna State.

 

Ngige had directed the two parties to maintain the status quo ante bellum pending the resolution of the issues in contention.

“I am therefore constrained in the exercise of my powers as the Minister of Labour and Employment, under the Trade Disputes Act, CAP. T8, Laws of Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004; to invite you and your top officials to the emergency trade dispute conciliation meeting,” he said.

Ngige’s intervention comes three days after the NLC started a protest following the disengagement of over seven thousand civil servants at the state and local governments by the Kaduna State government.

The strike has paralysed critical sectors of the economy in the state and the state governor Nasir El-Rufai in reaction declared the NLC Chairman and other leaders wanted for economic sabotage and attacks on public infrastructure in Kaduna State under the Miscellaneous Offences Act.

Fuel, Electricity Hike: FG, Labour Meeting Adjourned To Monday

A photo combination of TUC and NLC logos.

 

The meeting between the federal government and the organised labour over the recent hike in the pump price of petroleum and electricity tariff has been adjourned to Monday. 

This is to enable the federal government do a proper consultation on the pump price of petrol with labour insisting on the reversal of the price.

Both parties had reconvened on Thursday evening, days after the labour leaders walked out of another parley with the federal government to discuss the matter.

In his opening remarks during the meeting in Abuja, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said Sunday’s event was not a walkout but a recess.

READ ALSO: How Nigeria Will Become A Net Exporter Of Petrol, Others – Buhari

A file photo of the Minister of Labour and Employment.

 

He insisted that both parties – the government and the labour unions – were working for the betterment of the nation.

Ngige stressed that the issues at stake, which included the hike in electricity tariff and the price of petrol, do not only affect the citizens but also those on the government’s side.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, who was also at the meeting, addressed the labour leaders.

He gave an assurance that the government would ensure that resolutions reached would be for the benefit of the Nigerian people.

Mustapha also thanked the labour leaders for their show of patriotism, stressing that what happened on Sunday was a recess and not a breakdown of discussions.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Govt Reconvenes Meeting With Organised Labour Leaders

The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, was absent at the meeting, but he was represented by the General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Joe Ajaero.

Ajaero disagreed with the remarks of the labour minister and the SGF that the last meeting was a recess, insisting that it did not end peacefully.

He also insisted that the agenda for discussion should be presented for adoption before going forward.

Others in attendance include the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Farouk.

Electricity Tariff: FG Agrees To Provide Relief Of N10.20k/kW For Three Months

NEMSA, DISCOs, Meter

 

The discussions between the Federal Government and organised labour over the recent electricity tariff increase seems to be yielding a positive result.

This comes after the Federal Government on Sunday agreed to provide a tariff relief of 10 naira 20 kobo per kilowatt of electricity for Nigerians for the next three months and also massively distribute free meters to electricity consumers.

The  Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo announced this in a communique posted on his twitter handle, following the expiration of the 2-week suspension of the increased electricity tariff yesterday.

He said the Federal Government will use VAT proceeds to temporarily subsidize tariffs while the Adhoc committee will work for two more months to resolve other issues regarding tariff adjustments.

According to the Minister, “other immediate reliefs include the provision of six million free meters to Nigerians, salary protection for electricity workers, a mandatory refund for any overbilling during system transition by the discos, monthly publication by NERC of allowed billing of unmetered customers, etc.”

Mr. Keyamo added that the Adhoc committee set up by the Federal Government and organised labour last month agreed to adopt a two-phase approach to proffer solutions to resolve issues in the sector on a medium-term basis.

Labour had suspended its planned industrial action after the Federal Government suspended the tariff increase pending the outcome of their negotiation.

The Federal Government, through the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), in January approved the immediate review of electricity tariffs across the country.

A review of the new amount to be paid by various categories of electricity consumers indicates an increase that ranges from 59.7 per cent to 77.6 per cent.

Consumers classified as residential (R1) were, however, excluded from the review as the N4 per kWh they pay was left unchanged.

The development affected the 11 Distribution Companies (DISCOs) spread across the country such as Abuja DISCO, Benin DISCO, Enugu DISCO, and Eko DISCO.

Others are Ibadan DISCO, Ikeja DISCO, Jos DISCO, Kaduna DISCO, Kano DISCO, Port Harcourt DISCO, and Yola DISCO.

According to the latest order, the new amount to pay varies among categories of electricity consumers such as residential, commercial, industrial, special, and lighting.

Below are documents from the resolutions: 

‘We Will Follow Through’: Kyari Hails FG’s Deal With Labour

A file photo of NNPC GMD, Mele Kyari

 

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Monday praised the Federal Government’s agreement with Organised Labour to suspend the latter’s industrial action.

The labour unions had threatened to embark on a nationwide strike today (Monday) over the increase in fuel and electricity prices.

READ ALSO: Labour Suspends Planned Strike, FG To Put Electricity Tariff Hike On Hold

But after a meeting that started late Sunday and ended in the early hours of Monday, both parties struck a deal to suspend the strike for two weeks.

“We reached accord to suspend the planned strike action, great responsibility for both Govt and Labour, all serving the common good, beneficial challenge for NNPC, we will follow through diligently,” Kyari tweeted on Monday.

 

Fuel prices increased earlier this month as the deregulation of the country’s petroleum downstream sector continued to take shape.

Earlier on Monday, Kyari noted that the labour union’s understood the “inevitability” of deregulation and are working with the government to develop local refining sufficiency.

“NLC and TUC demonstrated absolute faith in our country and showed understanding on inevitability of PMS deregulation and jointly charted way forward to secure local refining sufficiency through greater stakeholder inclusiveness and transparency,” he said. “We will follow through diligently.”

 

FG Meets With Labour Unions

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, presides over the meeting between government representatives and labour leaders in Abuja on October 14, 2019.

 

The Federal Government on Sunday met with Labour Unions to avert the planned strike billed for Monday, September 28. 

A statement signed by Charles Akpan, the spokesman of the Labour and Employment Ministry, noted that the meeting was to commence at 7:00 pm.

According to the communique, the Honorable Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige was to meet with the Organized Labour at the Presidential Villa Banquet Hall.

As of the time of writing this report, the closed-door meeting was still ongoing and the outcome remains unknown.

Earlier on Sunday, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) insisted that it will carry on with its proposed strike action with regards to the recent increase in electricity tariff and the removal of petrol subsidy.

This resolve was taken following a closed-door meeting between the NLC and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila.

Mr Gbajabiamila met with representatives of NLC, at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja, in an attempt to mediate and broker an amicable solution to the impasse between Organised Labour and the Federal Government (FG).

Briefing journalists after the meeting, NLC President Comrade Ayuba Wabba said the proposed strike by the union will proceed unless the FG addresses the issues.

Reacting to the court order restraining the NLC from downing tools, Mr Wabba said the organization has not been served with the order and cannot speak on it.

He, however, noted that there is a judgement of a Federal High court stopping the increase of electricity tariff which the FG has refused to obey.

According to the NLC President, the proposed strike will only fail to hold if the govt makes a u-turn before 12 midnight today.

Labour cannot go on a strike in good conscience

At the brief before the closed-door meeting on Sunday, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila said Labour cannot go on a strike in good conscience as the consequences will be dire on Nigerians who will feel the hardship caused by the industrial action.

He stated that the House of Representatives shares the same thoughts and philosophy with the NLC as regards the plight of workers and the House of Reps championed the cause of free electricity and had advised that the hike in tariff be put in effect from 2021.

Nevertheless, the Speaker said he worries about the consequences of the strike and what will be achieved at the end.

In reply to the Speaker’s comments, the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba argued that the increase in electricity tariff and removal of petrol subsidy is bringing hardship on Nigerians, stressing that the organization is asking the FG to reverse the policy decisions.