Nigeria's labour unions protest hike in electricity tariff

Reuters | Abuja | Updated: 13-05-2024 20:35 IST | Created: 13-05-2024 20:29 IST
Nigeria's labour unions protest hike in electricity tariff
Representative Image
  • Country:
  • Nigeria

Nigeria's labour unions on Monday began a protest over a hike in electricity tariffs by more than 200% for some users by blocking access to the offices of the country's electricity regulator and power companies.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) - two of the country's biggest unions - had issued a two-week notice calling for the reversal of the new tariff hike and warned of "swift and decisive action." Strikes by these unions, which often follow this kind of protest, usually have an economic impact.

The NLC and TUC are demanding an immediate return to the previous electricity tariff, an immediate end to the practice of segregating consumers into what they say are arbitrary bands, and a return to corporate governance within the sector. The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had on April 3 raised electricity tariffs from 66 naira ($0.0465)/kwh to 225 naira ($0.1585) for about 15% of the 12 million grid-connected customers who are supposed to get up to 20 hours of power monthly.

"We have noted your concerns and we will go back to the drawing board,” NERC head Sanusi Garba told the protesting workers, who have insisted that the new rates be reversed before any negotiations are held. The increase drew nationwide outrage because the power companies lacked the capacity to meet the contracted hours and would trim supplies to other users to satisfy their wealthier customers. NERC last week reduced the tariffs to 206.8 naira ($0.1456)/kWh saying the naira rose marginally against the dollar.

Nigeria's regulator fixes tariffs based on economic factors including the price of gas - still sold locally in dollars - the inflation rate and the exchange rate, as most inputs are imported. It is trying to wean the sector off government subsidies that have led to tariffs that cannot guarantee commercial returns for investors. Labour unions chanting solidarity songs also blocked the offices of some of the country's power distribution firms as well as the ministry of power in Abuja.

Electricity workers at some distribution companies were sent away from their own offices, forcing some to return home. "NLC just chased us out of our office," one electricity worker posted on X with a smiley emoji. "My weekend has been extended." ($1 = 1,419.9000 naira)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Give Feedback