Revealed: Real reason behind electricity workers’ strike

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The real issue of contention between the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and the government has been revealed.

It was learnt that the reasons given by the electricity, though they form the bulk of the reasons, may not be the actual issue.

The union may have used the complaints as cover to tackle some underground moves to unbundle the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and sell some sections of the company and retain one.

According to industry sources, the TCN was to be unbundled into two sections, one to be known as Independent System Operators( ISO) and the other as Transmission Service Provider (TSP).

The ISO normally runs the transmission system while the TSP is the one that maintains the infrastructure of TCN, the government it was alleged had planned to sell the TSP which is predominantly government owned asset, both moveable and unmovable asset, as against ISO  which anybody can be recruited to do.

The ten regions of the transmission Company Nigeria were almost being shared among some politicians when the union got wind of the development and kicked against.

The union does not see any reason why governments should sell its asset and hold on to ISO.

The union was alleged to have written the director of States Services, Presidency and the Ministry of Power, intimating them that there would be consequences for their action should that happens.

As for the Transmission Service Provider (TSP ), if it is privatised, it is believed that it assets may be taken at give-away prices.

The would-be buyers would stripe the assets and leave the ISO as government-owned, and the organisation would thereafter be renting buildings and other facilities from those who would have bought the TSP when in the real sense of it should have been the other way round.

To press home their demand of not supporting the move to split the company and privatise part of it was what was responsible for the seriousness of the strike action. It was to also show the government that they can make the system ungovernable if it carries out the planned unbundling.

This is why even though the issue of unbundling TCN was not stated by the union it was the first issue that was discussed at the meeting with government officials.

An official statement by one of the two unions to the workers intimating them of what transpired at the meeting confirmed this.

The statement to the union member read thus:

“The Conciliatory meeting initiated by the Federal Government with the two in-house Unions held today 17th August 2022 at the federal ministry of labour and Employment Central Area Abuja.”

“The meeting deliberated on most of the issues in contention and ended with the following resolutions

1.On Issue of Unbundling of TCN’ it was put to rest as the government denied ever contemplating such agenda.

2. On the Issue of Stigmatization of Ex-PHCN workers, who have been denied employment opportunities in TCN; A high power committee was inaugurated comprising of the Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Power, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, BPE, Market Operator, Office of the Head of Service of the Federation and the Two in-house Unions as members; to fine tune policy as was considered discriminatory and unacceptable and revert back immediately.”

“3. Payment of outstanding arrears of privatization; The Ministry of Power was mandated to activate a sincere process with BPE to pay the outstanding liabilities (16th month arrears) and a comprehensive report is expected in two weeks

Consequently, the duo of the unions agreed on trust to suspend the ongoing strike action.