The national electricity grid on Wednesday morning began a nosedive from over 4,000 megawatts (MW) to 762MW as workers under the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) began an industrial action to protest a compulsory promotion interview for principal managers, among other issues.
According to data from the Independent System Operation (ISO), a section of TCN, power generation on the grid was 4,149.40MW as of 6am from 21 power plants on Wednesday but drastically dropped to 1,635MW from 17 plants.
By 12 noon, the grid had crashed to 1,246.40MW as three power plants went off, and by 1pm, the grid dropped to 762.30MW with just 13 plants active. The peak generation achieved on Tuesday was 4,829MW.
Union’s grouse with TCN
The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) had protested on Tuesday, blocking the premises of TCN in Maitama after it issued a notice of the strike earlier, notifying that it would fully commence the industrial action on Wednesday.
According to the General Secretary, Joe Ajaero in the notice dated 15th August 2022, the union protested against a directive by “the TCN Board that all Principal Managers in acting capacity going to Assistant General Managers, must appear for a promotion interview. This directive is in contravention of our Conditions of Service and Career Progression Paths, and unilaterally done without the relevant stakeholders.”
It also alleged stigmatization of staff from the office of the Head of Serve of the Federation from working in other areas in the power sector, as well as refusal of the Market operator at TCN to fund the payment of entitlement of ex-PHCN staff as agreed in December 2019.
Responding to the notice the same day, the Minister of State for Power, Goddy Jedy-Agba, noted the complaints and appealed to the union for time to resolve the issue.
“May we appeal to your great union to allow us two weeks from the date of this letter to address the issues and come up with proposals towards acceptable resolution of all issues,” he said.
More so, the Managing Director of TCN, Engr. Sule Abdulaziz, wrote a letter on 15th August, 2022 to NUEE stating that, “We are pleased to inform you that management has suspended the said proposed interview for those on the acting appointment of assistant general managers and general managers while we conclude the discussion with the board.
On the other issues such as circular from the office of Head of Service on stigmatization of the defunct PHCN staff and payment of entitlement of ex-PHCN staff by the Market Operator, Abdulaziz said the management had contacted the Minister of Power, Engr. Abubakar D. Aliyu, for further actions.
“In view of this development, we appeal to your union to stay in action,” he pleaded.
However, NUEE on 16th August, 2022, wrote back to the minister and the MD of TCN, insisting that the protest will continue. The union faulted the authorities for not resolving the promotion issues for three years and was not convinced about the issues regarding stigmatization at the Office of the Head of Service.
“On the stigmatization of staff from the office of the Head of Service of the Federation from working in other areas in the power sector, we are not sure you are speaking for the Head of Service after memos addressed to that office several months ago have gone without any acknowledgement,” the letter stated.
And for issues concerning the TCN board, NUEE insisted on hearing from the board and not through the TCN management or the junior minister’s office.
“Premised on the foregoing, we may be constrained to continue with this action by Wednesday 17th August 2022 with a total withdrawal of services. However, the union is still open to decisive discussions with relevant actors; with a view to proffering solutions to the issues raised and averting the total collapse of the sector,” Ajaero stated in the letter.
DisCos announce outage
In the meantime, there are pockets of outages in Abuja and the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) issued a notice telling customers the outage was due to the withdrawal of services by TCN workers who transmit bulk power from plants to DisCos’ stations.
Ikeja DisCo in Lagos also issued a notice saying the nationwide picketing affected most of its stations and disrupted power supply.
Enugu DisCo also announced in a notice to the customers that power supply to all the five south east states had been disrupted due to industrial action by TCN and advised customers to maintain vigilance over their transformers to forestall vandalism hoodlums during the period of the outage. (Daily Trust)