The House of Representatives says it will meet with heads of ministries of Power, Labour and the National Pension Commission to intervene in the industrial action by the National Union of Electricity Employees scheduled for Thursday.
The motion was moved by the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu under Matters of Urgent Public Importance at plenary, presided over by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Wednesday.
The motion was tagged “Urgent need for the Federal Government to interface with the management of electricity companies and the National Union of Electricity Employees to avoid impending electricity blackout”.
Okechukwu recalled that a petition was written by NUEE to electricity distribution and generating companies, warning of a nationwide strike if their demands were not met.
“A petition, dated November 7, was written to the Minister of Power by the NUEE and copied to all DISCOS and GENCOS, where the union warned, and gave a 21-day ultimatum to declare a nationwide strike, if their demands were not met by the electricity companies.
“These include non-payments of salary arrears, remittance of pension deductions, refusal to pay over 2,000 disengaged workers of the ex-PHCN staff since 2013, underpayment of over 50,000 ex-PHCN staff and casualisation/outsourcing of workers,” he said.
The lawmaker said that NUEE accused the ministry of power of failing to respond to their strike notification letter which expired on December 10.
“The union, having exhausted every avenue for resolution of the dispute, has no other option than to withdraw services, without further notice.
“Their resolve to go on with the strike without further notification came as a result of the information by a power sector consultant, Mrs Rahila Thomas, wherein she stated that GENCOS and DISCOS direly need N1.2 trillion bailout to improve services,” he said.
He expressed concern that the whole country would be plunged into blackout, if the union should be allowed to carry out its threat.
Okechukwu said that Nigeria, as a member of the International Labour Organisation had ratified over 40 international labour conventions.
He added that the Federal government had, through the National Assembly, enacted international labour laws and other labour laws by which it swore to protect the rights of workers in the country.
The lawmakers also expressed concern that if the reasons for the nationwide strike by NUEE were not addressed, it would lead to “serious financial losses for both private and government establishments, and pose security challenges in our country”.
The House directed the committees on Power and Labour to invite the ministers of Power, Saleh Mamman; Labour, Dr Chris Ngige; and the Director-General of Pensions Commission, Aisha Dahir-Umar for a meeting with the leadership of the House on Thursday.
The house also urged the Federal Government to direct the ministers of power and labour to amicably resolve all issues as raised by NUEE.