There was total blackout in Osun State on Wednesday as workers under the aegis of the National Union Electricity Employees (NUEE) shut down the transmission facility of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), located in Osogbo.
The shutdown followed a strike action declared by the leadership of NUEE to protest what they termed indifference posture of the federal government to their demands.
Findings by the Nigerian Tribune indicated that the shut down of TCN facilities by the industrial action around 11.00 am affects the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, which would also have a negative effect on the energy supply to some states in the South West.
Following the development, many industrial concerns, small and medium scale enterprises, including artisans who depend on electricity groaned as their operations were grounded due to lack of power.
Speaking during a chat with journalists over the shutdown, the national officer of the NUEE, Comrade Segun Babatunde said “our action is the consequence of the government keeping mute over the industrial issues we have raised severally and those issues have remained unattended to up to this moment.”
According to him, “we believe that we should be able to put our demands on the table and jaw-jaw with a view to achieving results at the end of the day.
If you now communicate with the government and the government is not saying anything on the issues we are agitating about, we don’t have any other option than to call out workers to embark on strike.”
“It will interest you to know that before we embark on strike, we initially gave 21 days ultimatum and when there was no response, we added seven days to it.
Government remained silent over it and that is to say that we can do anything. For example, you will remember that privatisation of PHCN was effective 1st of November, 2013.”
“You can see that it is already six years now and we still have people that have not been paid their exit package and they are up to 2,000 workers.
The exit package was calculated to 30th June 2012 and people were exited in November 1, 2013. That was 16 months ago and the NUEE had said, calculate that 16 months benefits and add it to what you have paid the workers. But, up till now, nothing had been done after we have written various memoranda.”
“Again, in the whole GENCO, Federal Ministry of Labour has a role, the Federal Ministry of Power has a role to get interested in whatever goes on there. There’s nothing that goes on there regarding these industrial issues that we didn’t copy Federal Ministry of Labour and Federal Ministry of Power. But, the government did not do anything.”
“The workers that have exited are already blackmailing the union leadership that they have collected money and government is aware. The Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) that is responsible is under government and so what do we do. What we see is inaction. The NUEE is ready to go into discussion and that was why we gave 21 days ultimatum and an additional seven days ultimatum.”
“The issue is that workers are on strike and that means the total shut down of all facilities. It involves everybody whether you are a general manager or the least worker in the industry.”
“Another issue is that how can you be deducting money for workers’ pension and you are not remitting it to the Pension Funds Administrators (PFAs). Are you not subjecting the future of those workers to jeopardy. Everybody is expected to participate in this strike action to drum home the demands of workers”, Babatunde remarked.