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Lawmakers Back Electricity Workers Agreement With Federal Govt

The leadership of the House of Representatives has said it will ensure the implementation of the agreement between the National Union of Electricity Employees, the Bureau of Public Enterprises and the Federal Ministry of Power to address the grievances that led to the workers’ strike action.

Members of the NUEE suspended the nationwide industrial action they embarked upon.

The strike was suspended after the union reached an agreement the FG at a meeting with senior government officials.

Though the agreement was signed at the meeting held between the ministry and the NUEE, the leadership of the House asked to be included as a witness to it so that the parliament would ensure the implementation of all issues agreed on.

The Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, said the House would ensure that members of the NUEE “are henceforth treated rightly by the Federal Government to prevent another strike by the workers.”

Gbajabiamila noted that the industrial action by the NUEE members on Wednesday paralysed economic activities in the country.

The House had suspended plenary on Thursday for the leadership to meet with the Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Mr Chris Ngige; the Minister of State for Power, Mr Goddy Jedy-Agba, officials of the BPE and leadership of the NUEE.

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Gbajabiamila appealed to the union to “exercise higher tolerance” before thinking of embarking on strike as their action could affect lives negatively.

He said, “From all indications, this matter will be resolved permanently. This matter was discussed on the floor of the House yesterday (Wednesday) and we decided that it would be addressed by the leadership, not by any committee; not because the committee doesn’t have competence but because of the seriousness.

“This issue has unintended consequences on Nigerians. Within the hours you are on strike, a lot of things may have happened. But they may not be reported.

“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.

“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.”

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

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The minister said, “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 wasthrown into a gargantuan loss.”

On his part, Jeddy-Agba said an agreement was reached with the electricity workers at a meeting that lasted six hours.

The General Secretary, NUEE, Mr Joe Ajaero, said the workers informed the ministry about the 21-day ultimatum and that no action was taken on the issues they raised.

He, however, expressed doubt on government’s readiness to respect the agreement.

Source: Punch

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