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Nigerian labour unions threaten strike action over electricity price hike



Nigeria’s labour unions, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), on Monday, issued a May 31st deadline for the federal government to reverse a recent hike in electricity tariffs.

This ultimatum comes after a joint emergency meeting of the unions’ national executive councils.

“The NEC once again vehemently condemns the unilateral increase in electricity tariff by the authorities. This action, taken without due consideration for the economic hardships faced by the masses and the provisions of the Law, is deemed unjust and burdensome.

“The NEC reaffirms its demands for an immediate reversal of the tariff hike and the vexatious apartheid categorization into Bands to alleviate the suffering of Nigerian workers and citizens and gives the National Electricity Regulatory Commission and the federal government until the last day of May 2024 to meet these demands,” the statement issued at the end of the meeting said.

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The unions strongly condemned the increase, which they viewed as unjust and a burden on ordinary Nigerians already facing economic hardship. They argued that the rise in electricity costs disregards the existing economic climate and legal regulations.

A particular point of contention is the tiered pricing system implemented alongside the tariff hike. This system categorizes consumers into bands with varying electricity costs, which the unions criticize as discriminatory.

The NERC announced the hike in the electricity tariff for Band A customers at a press briefing in Abuja on April 3, revealing that those affected would pay N225 per kilowatt-hour, up from the previous rate of N68/kWh.

The hike represented a 240 per cent increase.

The development marked the removal of subsidy from the tariff of customers in the Band A category, who constituted about 15 per cent of the total 12.82 million power consumers across the country.

The NLC and TUC are demanding the immediate reversal of the tariff increase and the abolition of the tiered pricing structure. They have warned of “appropriate actions” if the government fails to comply by the deadline.

This development raises the possibility of a nationwide strike, potentially disrupting various sectors of the Nigerian economy. It also highlights ongoing tensions between the government and labour unions regarding the rising cost of living.

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