Following pockets of industrial actions by workers of Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, in some states of the federation and the threat of a nationwide strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, over armed soldiers occupation of PHCN’s installations, and alleged refusal of government to settle pending labour issues ahead of planned privatization of PHCN, the Federal Government has invited unions in the sector for a meeting on Wednesday next week.
But in a swift reaction the unions said the government could not be inviting them for a meeting while still keeping armed soldiers at power installations and continuing with policies and action undermining workers’ rights and welfare.
In an apparent move to douse tension and apprehend the planned nationwide strike Saturday Vanguard gathered government through the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, began calling and appealing to the labour leaders one-by-one immediately after the declaration to see reasons with the government not to go for the strike.
Though the labour leaders said they were open to dialogue on the issues in contention, hence they gave the government a week grace to “withdraw the army from PHCN installation and conclude negotiations with the unions on outstanding issues,” but they said government should first withdraw armed soldiers from PHCN installations and facilities before talking of dialogue.
It will be recalled that after its National Executive Council, NEC, in Benin City, Edo State, on Wednesday night, leaders of NLC threatened to commence a nation- wide strike, if by the end of one week, government and management of PHCN refused to satisfactorily conclude negotiations with the unions.
The grouse of the labour leaders included military occupation of the headquarters of PHCN, other plants, current gun-point deductions from PHCN workers salaries directed by the Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji and alleged refusal of government to honor agreements reached and resolve pending labour issues.
In a communiqué issued and read after the NEC meeting by the NLC President, Comrade Abdulwahed Omar, the NLC declared that the congress and its allies would commence a nationwide strike, if the government and the PHCN management failed to “satisfactorily conclude” negotiations with the unions by the end of one week.