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JUST IN: Labour suspends planned strike

The planned strike earlier scheduled to begin today (Monday) by the Organised Labour has been called off.

This was announced by the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

The decision to call of the strike followed an agreement reached by the Labour unions with the Federal Government at a meeting which started, on Sunday evening. The meeting had started around 8:30p.m. and ended at 2:50a.m, on Monday morning.

After exhaustive deliberations on the issues raised by the labour unions, the meeting agreed to suspend the application of the cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments for two weeks.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, read the five-page communiqué signed by the representatives of the government and unions.

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NLC President, Ayuba Wabba and his TUC counterpart, Quadri Olaleye, amongst others, signed on behalf of Organised Labour while Dr. Ngige; Minister of State Petroleum, Timipre Silva; Minister of State Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo SAN; Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed; and the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha and others, signed on behalf of the government.

Olaleye confirmed the development in an interview, shortly after the meeting.

According to Olaleye, “Definitely correct. We just left a press conference. We signed a document to suspend the action for two weeks for the government to implement those things that we agreed in the agreement. So, we are suspending for two weeks.

“We don’t need a notice again to re-convene if there is a need to do that.”

The parties agreed to set up a technical committee comprising Ministries, Departments, Agencies, NLC and TUC.

It would work for a duration of two weeks effective September 28, to examine the justifications for the new policy “in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost-reflective tariff as a result of the conflicting information from the fields which appeared different from the data presented to justify the new policy by NERC; metering deployment, challenges, timeline for massive rollout.”

Members of the committee included the Festus Keyamo (SAN) as chairman; Minister of State Power, Godwin Jedy-Agba; Chairman, National Electricity Regulatory Commission, James Momoh; Special Assistant to the President on Infrastructure, Ahmad Zakari as the Secretary.

Other members are Onoho’Omhen Ebhohimhen, Joe Ajaero (NLC), Chris Okonkwo (TUC) and a representative of electricity distribution companies.

The committee’s terms of reference are to examine the justification for the new policy on cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments; to look at the different DISCOs and their different electricity tariff vis-à-vis NERC order and mandate; examine and advise government on the issues that have hindered the deployment of the 6 million meters, among others.

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“During the two weeks, the DISCOs shall suspend the application of the cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments,” the communiqué noted.

It also noted that the FG has fashioned out palliatives that would ameliorate the sufferings that Nigerian workers may experience as a result of the hike in cost electricity tariffs and the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.

The palliatives would be in the areas of transport, power, housing, agriculture and humanitarian support.

The meeting also resolved that the 40 per cent stake of government in the DISCO and the stake of workers should be reflected in the composition of the DISCO’s boards.

It agreed that “an all-inclusive and independent review of the power sector operations as provided in the privatization MoU to be undertaken before the end of the year 2020, with labour represented.