House facilitates implementation of agreement with electricity workers

Lawan Hamidu, Abuja

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The House of Representatives has pledged to ensure the implementation of the agreement between the Nigerian government and the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE to address the grievances that led to strike action by the union recently.

At a meeting between the leadership of the House and officials of the Ministries of Labour Power, Bureau of Public Enterprises and the union leadership, Mr. Gbajabiamila appealed to the union to exercise higher tolerance before embarking on strike as their action could affect lives negatively.

Speaker Gbajabiamila pleaded that “Let me plead with the electricity workers that your power of tolerance should be higher than any of us because your work and what you do or fail to do can affect lives. You should be able to sacrifice more.”

Mr Gbajabiamila further pleaded with the leadership of the electricity workers to henceforth communicate to the House whenever there are issues that would lead them to embark on strike.

He said “We want to make that agreement a tripartite agreement and include the House of Representatives as part of it. We want to be part of the agreement as witnesses so that you can hold us accountable. That way, we’ll ensure that the government meets its part.”

The Speaker also said the House would amend the Labour Law to strengthen the constitutional powers of the labour ministry to sanction erring employers of labour.

“We’ll see how you can work with committees on power and labour to see how we can amend the labour law to suit the issues you canvassed.” He maintained.

Earlier, the Minister of Labour Sen. Chris Ngige told the House leadership that he was disturbed by the strike, saying the union did not duly notify his ministry about its planned action.

“I want to register my great displeasure at what has happened. This is because electricity is an essential service after the hospital. In fact, if you shut down electricity, you will end up killing people.

It was unfortunate that they had to go on strike without involving us much on the issue. I didn’t find it funny that the whole economy was thrown into a gargantuan loss.” Ngige said.

The Minister of State for Power, Mr Goddy Jedy Agba said an agreement was reached with the electricity workers, which led to the suspension of the strike.

He said “We’ve sat and thrashed out the issues from 8.pm to about 2.am. We signed the papers and they suspended the strike. I assure you that the matter has been resolved and communique has been signed.”

The General Secretary of the Union, Comrade Joe Ajaero, expressed concern that no action was taken despite the twenty-one-day ultimatum given to the ministry that led to the strike.

Although an agreement was reached and signed before the interface with the lawmakers the House leadership said it should be included as a witness to it to ensure that all issues agreed on are implemented.