by Victor Young
Organised Labour has given insight into why the struggle and fight against privatization is not just a fight to stop the sale of public services.
Labour explains that it is also a struggle to make our communities and economies more equitable, protect the sick, unemployed, disabled, aged and vulnerable.
It is a fight to determine the nature of social justice and equity in our society.”
Speaking on reasons for the opposition to privatisation of public enterprises, Labour through the General Secretary of National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, Joe Ajaero, in Lagos, argued that among others, “despite its false assumptions of private-sector efficiency, a major driver of privatisation, is profit based on job cuts and lower labour costs. Its main targets are to break Unions’ collectivism, drive down wages, introduce precarious work and destroy union solidarity.
“In spite of these fallacies of privatization and the agony it has caused the working people, NUEE provided better alternatives to privatization. These alternatives we’re aimed at strengthening the poor and masses of this country, the public services including reversal of privatization and Public-Public Partnership, PUPs.
The public is told by privateers that privatization is impossible to reverse but they ignore the evidence of hundreds of cases of governments successfully bringing privatized services; often failed privatization back into the public hands.
“NUEE supports the reversal of privatization, promotes examples of success and is ready to assist the Nigerian State to pursue the reversal of privatization, it so desires. NUEE is ready to collaborate in building anti-privatization coalitions at National, Regional and global levels and coordinate the actions of Public and Private Unions, woken organizations, Civil societies, and Allies, in the country.
Assist governments, Unions, and communities to successfully reverse privatizations after failed privatizations and assists in finding PUPs partners. Privatization, as you can all see, has institionalized workplace dictatorship, as democratic organizations like the trade Unions have either been outlawed or are struggling to survive. Besides increased tariffs, downsizing and outsourcing the workforce to ensure profit maximization.”
Giving insight into the experience of electricity workers, he argued that privatization was processed to fail by the Unions and also failed as predicted by the workers’ organization despite reported warnings.
He said “We were deeply concerned with the rush which privatization of Energy Sector in Nigeria was done which has repeatedly proven to have failed in other countries. We strongly believed that it was down on the wrong path.
Experience across the world indicates fundamental problems with the privatization agenda of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, IMF, especially in Energy. Comparative international analyses indicate system problems with unbundling and privatization of the Electricity Sector in Nigeria and many other countries. The main problem is that the Electricity Sector does not respond well to market Dynamics for some reason.
“Electricity is a standard product, so choosing a different supplier cannot provide better Electricity. Electricity cannot be stored. There are no substitutes for electricity. Etc.
Evidence over the years shows that privatization does not bring in new investments that are needed to build a sustainable energy system rather it attracts those investments which will ensure high returns go private Corporations.
“Most of the independent Power Producers signing very lucrative, long term, guaranteed Power Purchase Agreements, PPA’s, which end up wreaking havoc in the electricity sectors. These PPA(s) have taken or pay clauses, impose higher tariffs, etc. Not to mention the corruption inherent in letting such lucrative contracts.”