Friday, 22 April 2016

Nigerian electricity workers plan transmission shutdown

Nigeria may soon be thrown into a total blackout as electricity workers are planning to shut power transmission nationwide over breaches in labour issues and takeover of the defunct PHCN headquarters in Abuja.
A key staff member privy to the crisis at the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) told Daily Trust yesterday that government officials in a failed attempt to resolve issues chose to engage the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SEASAC) instead of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE).
“This angered the NUEE and triggered the issuance of a circular on Thursday to its members nationwide to proceed on total strike shortly,” the source said.
The official said when a circular is issued by the union, it takes less than 24 hours for them to swing into action.
Daily Trust exclusively reports that the NUEE and the Permanent Secretary, Louis Edozien and other officials of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (Power) recently clashed over the attempted take-over of the headquarter building of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) belonging to the defunct PHCN.
In the process, about five doors were forced open at the fourth floor of the building while the fifth floor was also sealed off by the officials since last year. Our reporter who visited the building observed that TCN workers were forced to occupy three floors.
The Senior Assistant Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employee (NUEE), Comrade Akoh Cyprian Ndubisi told Daily Trust that ministry officials led by the Permanent Secretary, Engr. Louis Edozien came to forcefully take over the TCN headquarters.
He said the union would continue to resist such moves until every severance package and other entitlements meant for union members were cleared.
On the centre of the crisis, he said 2,233 staff were yet to be fully settled.
“We have 980 staff who retired and those whose relations died on the job and have not got their entitlements. There are other claims being owed us too like the 16 month arrears among others,” he said.
Another source privy to the crisis that started in March said the union opposed the ministry’s occupation of the building until all the payment of entitlements and other packages after privatising the PHCN were done.
He noted that over half of the funds used in building the complex was taken from the pensioners’ (staff) fund which had not been repaid, while the 10 per cent shares meant for the staff in the privatised entities were yet to be allocated.
Over 2000 staff are either yet to receive their entitlements or were underpaid, while the 16 months salary arrears and housing payments due to most staff when privatising the 18 PHCN entities in generation and distribution have not been paid, the official said.
 The official said after the crisis some three weeks ago with Edozien, a meeting was slated for last week but was deadlocked with ministry officials threatening to bring in the police and forcefully takeover the building.
Another attempt was made to engage the union by the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige on Tuesday but failed. It was reschedule for Wednesday but could not hold due to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting. Rather, they moved on to sit with a different body that does not entirely represent the umbrella body of electricity workers as the NUEE.
Meanwhile the ministry and TCN said the disruption of activities at the headquarters does not affect power transmission which is done at its regional offices.

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