Federal Government has summoned the leadership of the two unions in the Power industry, to an emergency meeting today over their threat to call members out for an indefinite strike from tomorrow to protest alleged breach of agreements and personal agenda being pursued by the Power Minister.
The unions; National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, and Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, SSAEAC, listed unpaid 50% salary increase, regularization of casuals, staff biometric verification exercise, winding down of Corporate Headquarters of PHCN and sack of top Executive Officers of PHCN including the General Manager Human Resources, as part of their grievances.
NUEE and SSAEAC, which had written to the government about their intention to commence strike after April 11, (today) accused the Power Minister of unilateral actions detrimental to industrial peace and against known industrial relations best practices.
But apprehending the strike, the Federal Government through the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, asked the labour leaders to halt every industrial action in line with the extant labour law.
In the letter of invitation to the meeting by Wogu through Mrs C.C Dike, Acting Director, Department of Trade Unions Services and Industrial Relations, the labour Minister said, “In view of the very recent notice issued by your trade union in a letter reference no. NUEE/SSAEAC/JAC/35/223/2012 dated April 5, 2012, to embark on an industrial action, I am directed to invite you to an emergency meeting scheduled to hold as follows: Date: Friday, April 13, 2012
Time: 12noon, Venue: conference Room of the Honourable Minister of Labour & Productivity, Federal Secretariat Complex, Abuja .”
“In view of the intervention by the Honourable Minister to ensure the amicable resolutions of the points in dispute, you are advised to kindly be mindful of the provisions of Section 18 of the Trade Disputes ACT, CAP T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004, which prohibits strikes or lock outs where a dispute has been apprehended.”
It would be recalled that in the letter informing the government of the plan to begin strike after April 11, Joe Ajaero and Abiodun Ogunsegha, General Secretary of NUEE, and General Secretary of SSAEAC respectively, stated, “all agreements reached at the ongoing negotiation with the Federal Government team and the labour unions, under the chairmanship of Comrade Hassan Sumonu were lopsidedly implemented, bringing severe pains to our members.
“While it took the Ministry/Management of PHCN 6 months after a signed agreement to commence implementation of this head of agreement, payments up till this moment is done piecemeal. The payments in the Distribution companies are done in batches, old salary at a time and the 50% at another time.
In most cases, the 50% increase batch has fallen into arrears of more than 3 months. All attempts to prevail on the Ministry and Management of PHCN to capture the increase on the old and pay once had fallen on deaf ears.
“It was agreed during the first round of negotiations that ended in May 2011 that casuals in PHCN be regularized and integrated into employment. This issue had been badly handled by BPE who engaged the services of a consultant to conduct biometric verification on the casuals.”