The Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC) has completely rejected a rise in electricity tariff which the government agency responsible for electricity pricing has been denying. The NLC said in a statement the energy rise is very awful, calling it a cruel move on the part of the government “to introduce yet another killer electricity tariff amidst the soaring inflation and poverty rates in the country”.
To make matters worse, the NLC is saying the increase was so surreptitiously handled in such a way that the representatives of Organized Labour in the committees set up during negotiation with government to engage on issues in its electricity and petroleum sectors heard of the hike from the media like other Nigerians. This, it describes as a stellar performance in negotiation in bad faith by the Federal Government.
Connecting the increase to the renewed onslaught of COVID-19 and its impact on workers, the central labour body said the increase would be the umpteenth time in a space of less than one year and had been announced without recourse to the negotiation process that the government and Organized Labour in Nigeria signed up to about three months ago.
Apart from the projected impact on workers, the NLC is also fearful of the impact of this new increase on manufacturing in Nigeria, saying that producers of “Made-inNigeria” goods and services would certainly find it greatly difficult to cope with this new tariff.
“Before now, many manufacturing concerns and Small to Medium Enterprises were already reeling in great strain as a result of the negative growth occasioned by the first wave of the COVID pandemic in 2020. There is no gainsaying the fact that this tariff hike would sound the death knell for many manufacturing outfits in Nigeria as many of them would resort to either mass layoff of workers and or direct importation of finished goods”, said the NLC in the statement before taking on the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) for double speak.
In the NLC’s words, “In one breath, NERC denied any new increase in tariff. In another breath, it announced that electricity tariff would be adjusted from N2 per kilowatt/hour to N4 per kilowatt/hour – a 100% tariff increase. The statement in quick reversals also lumped consumers in Band D and E under the new tariff. This volte face is contrary to our agreement with government which excluded Band D and E from further increases in electricity tariff. This clearly paints a picture of deliberate mission by government to hoodwink and take Nigerians for a ride”.
Continuing the disagreement with the tactic, the NLC says that, overall, this increase in electricity tariff apart from negating the agreement we reached with government in September 2020 will further imperil our local economy, lead to the loss of millions of jobs by Nigerian workers and trigger wider social discomfitures.
Worried that the increase amounts to snatching the warmth of the New Year from Nigerian workers, the NLC is asking the Federal Government to quickly withdraw what it calls “this uncanny New Year Gift or face an unprecedented industrial resistance by Nigerian workers”.