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Darkness in the land: TCN plunges Nigeria into darkness amid trade dispute with FG

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The Transmission Company of Nigeria, the state-owned power transmission company has shut down major its stations across the country, cutting power supply to electricity consumers.

The latest development is a fallout of previous threats to cut electricity transmission over unresolved issues with the Ministry of Power.

Reports indicate that affected states include Lagos, Ogun, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Abuja and others.

Electricity workers under the aegis of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and the Senior Staff Association Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) had on Tuesday, August 16, grounded the operations of TCN nationwide with the picketing of its office across the country for reneging on the agreement it had reached with the unions some years ago.

The aggrieved electricity workers who had vowed to paralyse the operations of TCN over its anti-masses activities said that the exercise that they carried out on Tuesday was a prelude to an indefinite strike action which is expected to commence today (Wednesday, August 17).

The TCN in its reaction to the threat of industrial action, appealed to electricity workers to suspend their proposed strike over staff welfare, assuring that it had taken steps to resolve the issues that had been highlighted by the union.

Also, the Minister of State for Power, Goddy Jedy-Agba, appealed to the union to give the government 2 weeks to address the issues raised and come up with proposals for an acceptable resolution of all of them.

He noted that the ministry was committed to proffering solutions that would be acceptable to all parties concerned.

Despite appeals from the Minister of State for Power and the TCN management for time to resolve the issues, the electricity workers appeared adamant as they made good their threat to continue with their industrial action.

NUEE in a letter dated August 16, 2022, signed by its General Secretary, Joe Ajaero, and addressed to the Minister of State for Power, said that members of the union would continue with its industrial action with a total withdrawal of service on Wednesday.

Ajaero in the letter expressed regrets that the agreement that the union reached with TCN due to the intervention of the minister has not been implemented 3 years after.

The letter from NUEE partly reads, ‘’It would be recalled that you were part of the signatories to the agreement signed in December 2019 with the union.

‘’It is disheartening that an agreement reached with the union as a result of the interventions from your esteemed office almost 3 years down the line has not been implemented. Unfortunately, the issues raised and not addressed have relapsed/metamorphosed as part of the causes of the industrial unrest in the sector.

‘’On the stigmatization of staff from the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation from working in other areas in the power sector, we are not sure you are speaking for the Head of Service after memos addressed to that office several months ago have gone without any acknowledgement.

‘’On the issue affecting violations/contravention of TCN’s conditions of Service by TCN Board, the management has only written by proxy for the board.

‘’Premised on the foregoing, we may be constrained to continue with this action by Wednesday 17th August 2022 with total withdrawal of services.

’However, the union is still open to decisive discussions with relevant actions, with a view to proffering solutions to the issues raised and averting the total collapse of the sector.

‘’We appreciate your quick intervention.’’

Recall that on May 18, 2022, the NUEE had issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of TCN, threatening a total withdrawal of their services over some unresolved issues.

Some of those issues include the alleged failure of the Federal Government to pay the entitlement of former staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in December 2019, the directive that all principal managers in acting capacity upgrading to acting-general manager capacity must appear for a promotion interview.

The union said the directive was in contravention of the workers’ conditions of service and career progression paths, adding that “it was unilaterally done without the relevant stakeholders”.

Also, the union rejected the circular from the Head of Service of the Federation which it states is going against the Electricity Reform Act which supersedes any circular. The circular states that those who have worked before in PHCN cannot be employed again.

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