Labour suspends planned strike, FG reverses electricity tariff hike

Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige meets with NLC and TUC to resolve issues surrounding impending strike action
EJ
Emeh Joy

The Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress have suspended the strike action which was scheduled to commence today (Monday).

This recent development came following an agreement reached with the Federal Government at a meeting which started at 8:30 pm on Sunday and ended at 2:50 a.m this morning.

The meeting agreed to suspend the application of the cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments for two weeks after exhaustive deliberations on the issues raised by the labour centres.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, read the five-page communique signed by the representatives of the government and labour.

Quadri Olaleye, the TUC President, spoke to news reporters on Monday morning confirming the news.

"Definitely correct. We just left a press conference. We signed a document to suspend the action for two weeks for the government to implement those things that we agreed in the agreement.

"So we are suspending for two weeks. We don't need a notice again to re-convene if there is need to do that".

What the meeting between NLC, TUC and FG resolved

The parties agreed to set up a technical committee which would comprise of NLC, TUC, Ministries, Agencies and Departments.

The technical committee is expected to function for two weeks (effective September 28).

It will examine the justifications for the new policy "in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost-reflective tariff as a result of the conflicting information which appeared from the data presented to justify the new policy by NERC".

TUC and NLC agreed to suspend the strike action for two weeks to give the government time to implement its agreement with the labour union

"During the two weeks, the DISCOs shall suspend the application of the cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments", the communique noted.

The communique also said that FG has fashioned out palliatives that would reduce the sufferings that Nigerian workers might experience as a result of the hike in electricity tariffs and the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.

The palliatives cover the areas of power, transport, agriculture, housing and humanitarian support.

The meeting further resolved that the 40 per cent stake of government in the DISCO and stake of workers should be reflected in the composition of the DISCO's boards.

It also agreed that "an all-inclusive and independent review of the power sector operations as provided in the privatisation MoU to be undertaken before the end of the year 2020 with labour represented.

"All parties agreed on the urgency for increasing the local refining capacity of the nation to reduce the overdependency on the importation of petroleum products to ensure energy security, reduce the cost of finished products, increase employment and business opportunities for Nigerians".

The Federal Government agreed to deliver 1 million CNG/LPG AutoGas conversion kits, storage skids and dispensing units under the Nigeria Gas Expansion Programme by December 2021 to enable the delivery of cheaper transportation and power fuel.

The meeting further resolved that the Federal Government will facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage as a way of cushioning the impacts of the policy on the lowest vulnerable.

The members of the technical committee set up by the parties include:

  • The Minister of State Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN), as Chairman
  • Minister of State Power, Godwin Jedy-Agba
  • Chairman of National Electricity Regulatory Commission, James Momoh
  • Special Assistant to the President on Infrastructure, Ahmed Zakari, as Secretary

Other members include Chris Okonkwo (TUC), Onoho'Omhen Ebhohimhen, Joe Ajaero (NLC) and a representative of electricity distribution companies.

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