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NUEE strike: How minister’s intervention saved blackout crisis

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…Over N360bn paid to disengaged PHCN staff-BPE claims

Goddy Jedy Agba
Goddy Jedy Agba

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

The Federal Government, through prompt intervention of the Minister of State (Power), Mr Goddy Jedy Agba, has prevented a situation that would have resulted in a long total blackout of electricity in the country following a truce between it and stakeholders
in the power sector.

Meanwhile, Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, has disclosed that it had paid over N360 Billion to over 2,000 disengaged Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN staff.

Recall that the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, embarked on an indefinite general strike on Wednesday, December 11th, 2019, which led to total blackout of electricity across the country.

The workers embarked on the strike action following crisis in the power sector at the expiration of the 21 days issued by the union.

Agreement was reached during an extensive engagement with stakeholders in Abuja, Federal Capital of Nigeria.

ICYMI: Blackout looms as workers shut DISCOs, GENCOs, begin nationwide strike

Stakeholders in the sector at the emergency meeting, include: Representatives of the Ministry of Power, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Director General of BPE, Mr Alex Okoh, leadership of NUEE and others.

The meeting addressed several issues that led to the suspension of the strike by the electricity workers, who resumed duty after 24 hours of action.

The communique issued at the end of the meeting, jointly signed by The Minister, DG BPE, President NUEE, comrade Engr. Martin Uzoegwu, General Secretary NUEE, Comrade Joe Ajaero, and representative of the Federal  Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Hosea Akayi Musa, agreed among others:

The meeting resolved that DisCos/GenCos be advised to negotiate with their bankers to ensure sufficient cash flow to enable them pay salaries as at when due.

The meeting also resolved that the DisCos could be advised to stop casualization of workers where or exists.

It also resolved that all staff who participated in the Industrial action would not be victimised in any way.

However, the minister promised to visit the GenCos in the company of the Managing Director of NELMCO along with some officials of the union to see things for on the spot access meant with the aim to resolve the issue of unionization in the GenCos and the non-remittance of the deducted check-off dues.

On the issue of harassment by security personnel, Jedy Agba who denied any knowledge of the incident, however, apologised with assurance that such “unfortunate” incident would not occur again.

On the non-payment of over 2000 disengaged PHCN staff, Okoh confirmed that over N360 Billion had been paid and that the verification of 600 staff processed and forwarded to Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) for payment, while 200 could not be verified.

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On the issue of 16-months underpayment of severance benefit as well as the 7.5 per cent Pension component, DG BPE acknowledged that the fact that it was still pending and promised to work modalities for payment.

Okoh, also promised to obtain the Condition of Service (COE) from the GenCos and DisCos within a week and subsequently, submit it to the Minister of State (Power) for appropriate action.

Okoh promised to intervene on the non-remittance of Contributory Pension to Pension Fund Administrator, PFA, especially for Kaduna, Kano and Jos.

DG BPE, explained that the pre-retirement training was processed, but that there was no cash backing to carry out the training.

On 10 per cent equity, he explained that the percentage share had not been worked out because the 40 per cent was yet to be determined and that until then staff could access their own share.

Meantime, while applauding the move by the FG, the stakeholders agreed that the minister’s intervention averted what would have led to a setback for the economy of the county considering current efforts by President Muhammadu Buhari led administration in restoring the nation’s economy.

Vanguard News Nigeria.

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