Nigeria’s labour threatens strike over planned hike in electricity tariff

Victor Ahiuma-Young

28 May 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – LESS than four days to June 1 when planned hike in electricity tariff is expected to take off, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has advised government to jettison the plan or risk a nationwide strike and mass protest.

The union urged President Goodluck Jonathan to be wary of advisers who are determined to set him on an unnecessary collision course with the people over policies that undermine prosperity and worsen the country’s poverty level.

Similarly, NLC warned the government against contemplating further increase in the pump price of petrol to avoid the wrath of the Nigerian people who have not been able to recover from the pains of January increase which eroded the purchasing power of Nigerians.

Leaders of NLC, however, commended President Jonathan’s directive to the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, to prosecute those found culpable in the recent report of the House of Representatives on the probe of the oil subsidy regime in the country.

At the National Administrative Council (NAC) meeting, in Abuja, leaders of NLC dismissed purported consultation by the Power Minister, Prof. Barth Nnaji and Chairman of Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, as afterthought when the new tariff and date of the increment had been unilaterally fixed.

They expressed concern that Nigerians were being made to pay for power that is not available, saying it is unacceptable.

It would be recalled that NLC boycotted last week’s meeting called by government officials to discuss the issue of the tariff hike, among others.

Only leaders of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, attended the meeting where they were quoted to have told the government officials that Nigerians would not pay for unavailable power.

It was gathered that the Minister of Power who was concerned by the absence of NLC on Friday made overtures to unions in the electricity industry—National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, and the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, SSAEAC— to lobby them to accept the policy to no avail.

Remain steadfast
A statement by NLC President, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, after the NAC meeting, said leaders of NLC called all affiliate unions and state councils to remain steadfast in the struggle for total implementation of the new minimum wage in all the states of the Federation.

The statement said: “It (NAC) also resolved to oppose any increase in energy tariff without improved power supply, while it calls on all affiliate unions to continue the demand for the holistic restructuring of the downstream petroleum sector through building of the new refineries and self sufficiency in products supply”.