The two major electricity unions in Nigeria’s power sector on Friday opposed the Federal Government’s decision to provide N39bn loan to power distribution companies for the provision of meters to customers across the country.
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria has also opposed the proposed increase in minimum wage in selected government agencies.
The National Union of Electricity Employees and the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies disclosed this at an event organised by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company for the signing of the AEDC staff conditions of service between the Disco and the unions in Abuja.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, had during the recent 18th power sector stakeholders’ meeting, announced that the N39bn loan would enable power distribution companies to procure meters to reduce the huge metering gap in Nigeria.
But after accepting to sign the staff conditions of service agreement with the AEDC, the General Secretary, NUEE, Joe Ajaero, asked the AEDC’s Managing Director, Ernest Mupwaya, if it was right for the Federal Government to provide funds to power firms after selling out the companies to private investors.
Ajearo stated that NUEE was not in support of the N701bn intervention fund being provided by the Federal Government to power generation companies, adding that the union was also against the move by government to provide N39bn financial support to distribution firms for meter procurement.
“If after four years of running as private companies you (power firms) are still looking for bail-out funds or loans, then I think there is a problem, because it shouldn’t be so,” he said.
The President-General, SSAEAC, Chris Okonkwo, who also signed the AEDC staff condition of service agreement on behalf of his group, stated that the association would oppose the use of public funds for the support of power companies that had yet to deliver satisfactorily, four years after they were privatised.
“Labour will not accept the borrowing of N39bn by the Federal Government to Discos for the procurement of meters. We raised this issue at the Trade Union Congress meeting and we advice you (Discos) to start looking for alternatives,” he said.
In a communiqué at the end of its National Executive Council meeting in Lagos on Friday, the TUC said selective implementation of wage increase of Nigerian workers was retrogressive and unacceptable.
The communiqué by the President, TUC, Bobboi Kaigama and General Secretary of the union, Musa Lawal, called for a holistic approach to wage increase and the retention of minimum wage on the exclusive list.