Labour plans one-day nationwide protest against electricity tariff increase, anti-unionism in Kaduna
TUC warns of economy collapse
THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has planned to hold a one-day protest against increment in the electricity tariff as well as the move of the Kaduna State government to bar its workers from belonging to unions.
The President of the NLC, Wabba Ayuba, who disclosed this in Abuja yesterday, said that a one-day national day of action would also be declared as a forerunner to the one-day national strike.
Wabba said: “We will declare a one-day national strike to protest the hike in the electricity tariff. Though the day would be fixed after our meeting with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and other critical stakeholders. What is clear to us is that most Nigerians cannot afford the new tariff. It is even worst when Nigerians are now forced to pay for darkness. The electricity companies are deliberately refusing to make meters available so that they can maximise profit.
“As of today, our transmission lines cannot carry more than 6,000 megawatts. So, even if by some magic the Federal Government achieves the 10,000 megawatts, how would that 10,000 be transmitted to the consumers? The transmission lines are very weak and in dire need of rehabilitation and building of new ones. So, let no one deceive the President that Nigeria can transmit 10,000 megawatts with the existing system we have in place.”
On its part, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has warned of imminent collapse of the economy if urgent attention is not paid to critical sectors of the economy by the Federal Government.
It bemoaned the unpleasant situation in the country, which has stifled the economy and claimed thousands of jobs due to closure of companies.
The TUC President, Bobboi Kaigama, who cautioned electricity distribution companies to stop sending estimated bills to consumers for energy that was not consumed, added: “The power distribution companies should stop sending so-called ‘estimated’ bills to Nigerians. They are defrauding consumers while the government consistently looks the other way. How else do we explain the fact that Nigerians are paying for services not rendered? We recall that the Minister of Power, Babatunde Fashola, prior to the 2015 elections said ‘any government that cannot fix power in six months is irresponsible.’ Should we now say that both the minister and the present administration are irresponsible? Or shall we now conclude that this administration is conspiring with operators in the power sector to rip Nigerians off?”
Wabba also said that the introduction of “special exercise on workers verification” by Kaduna State government with an instruction to tick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ with regard union membership is an affront to the Labour movement and an attempt to deny workers their right to belong to trade union of their choice.
He said: “The decision of the state government to unilaterally conduct a membership audit of union members constitutes a gross interference in the internal affairs of the unions and it is an illegality.”
He, therefore, called on the CWC meeting to ratify the decision of the National Administrative Council (NAC) on the national rallies as well as the one-day national strike.