Organised labour suspends planned strike as FG halts new electricity tariff

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The Organized Labour has suspended its planned industrial action scheduled to commence on Monday, 28 September, following an agreement reached with the Federal Government.

The parties to the dispute agreed to suspend the application of the cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments for two weeks, while constituting a Committee to examine that new policy.

Presenting the Communique on the resolution of the trade dispute between the Federal Government and the two Labour Centres – Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and Trade Union Congress, TUC, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said that starting Monday, 28 September, 2020, the Committee had two weeks to submit its report, during which time the Electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs would suspend the application of the cost-reflective Electricity Tariff adjustments.

He said that at the end of exhaustive deliberations on issues raised by Organized Labour, the parties agreed to set up a Technical Committee “to 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 from the fields, which appeared different from the data presented to justify the new policy by National Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC; metering deployment, challenges, timeline for massive roll-out.”

The Committee comprises Minister of State for Labour and Employmrnt, Festus Keyamo, SAN (Chairman); Minister of State for Power, Godwin Jedy-Agba; Chairman, NERC, James Momoh; Special Assistant to the President on Infrastructure, Ahmad Rufai Zakari (Secretary); Onoho’Omhen Ebhohimhen (NLC); Joe Ajaero, NLC; Chris Okonkwo, TUC, and a representative of Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs).

The terms of reference for the Committee include, to examine the justification for the new policy on cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments; to look at the different DISCOs and their different electricity tariff vis-à-vis NERC order and mandate; to examine and advise Government on the issues that have hindered the deployment of the six million meters; to look into the NERC Act under review with a view to expanding its representation to include Organized Labour.

The parties also agreed on a review of “the Power sector operations as provided in the privatization Memorandum of Understanding, to be undertaken before the end of 2020 with Labour represented”, among other resolutions on the Electricity Tariff issue.

The parties understood the inevitability of deregulating the downstream sector and removing subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), and agreed on expediting the rehabilitation of the nation’s refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna in order to reduce the over-dependency on importation of petroleum products, ensure energy security, reduce cost of finished products, and increase employment and business opportunities for Nigerians.

By December 2021, it is expected that 50% of the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery would be achieved, while timelines for Warri and Kaduna refineries would be established by the inclusive Steering Committee, the communique noted.

“A Validation team comprising the representatives of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, ICRC, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association, PENGASSAN will be established to monitor progress of the rehabilitation of the refineries and the pipelines/strategic depots network and advise the Steering Committee periodically.”

According to the Communique, “Post rehabilitation, NNPC shall involve the PENGASSAN and NUPENG in the process of establishing the operational model of the Nation’s refineries.”

The parties also agreed that the Federal Government would facilitate the delivery of licensed modular and regular refineries, among other resolutions to mitigate the adverse effect of the downstream sector deregulation.

To soften the effect of the increase in petroleum price and electricity tariff, Ngige noted that the Federal Government would provide certain palliatives, including providing fund for Nigerian workers to participate in agricultural ventures; facilitating “the removal of tax on minimum wage as a way of cushioning the impacts of the policy on the lowest vulnerable.”

The Federal Government would also “make available to Organized Labour 133 CNG/LPG-driven mass transit buses immediately and provide to the major cities across the country on a scale up basis, thereafter to all states and local governments before December 2021.

“On Housing, 10% would be allocated to Nigerian workers under the ongoing Ministries of Housing and Finance initiative through the NLC and TUC.”

The Communique was signed for Government by Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN, and Minister of Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva

NLC President, Ayuba Wabba; TUC President, Quadri Olaleye; NUPENG President, Williams E. Akporeha; PENGASSAN President, Festus Osifo; National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE President, Martin Uzoegwu; Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Comoanies, SSAEAC President, Chris N. Okonkwo; Secretary General, NLC, Emmanuel Ugboaja, and Secretary General, TUC, Musa Lawal Ozigi, mni, signed for Organized Labour.

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