Total Blackout, As Labour Shut Down National Grid

Date:

By ABAH ADAH, Abuja

Organised labour comprising Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress, TUC, yesterday shut down the national power grid, following the commencement of an indefinite strike over minimum wage. 

Announcing this in a statement issued by the General Manager, Public Affairs, Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN,  Ndidi Mbah, TCN said the shut down happened at about 2.19am yesterday. 

According to TCN, at about 1:15am, Benin Transmission Operator under the Independent System Operations unit of TCN reported that all operators were driven away from the control room and that staff that resisted were beaten, while some were wounded in the course of forcing them out of the control room, and without any form of control or supervision, Benin Area Control Centre was brought to zero.

Other transmission substations that were shut down by the labour union include Ganmo, Benin, Ayede, Olorunsogo, Akangba and Osogbo Transmission Substations. Some transmission lines were equally opened due to the ongoing activities of the labour union.

On power generating side, power generating units from different generating stations were forced to shut down some units. 

“Jebba Generating Station was forced to shut down one of its generating units, while three others in the same substation subsequently shut down on very high frequency. The sudden forced load cuts led to high frequency and system instability, which eventually shut down the national grid at 2:19am.

“At about 3.23am, however, TCN commenced grid recovery, using Shiroro Substation to attempt to feed the transmission lines supplying bulk electricity to Katampe Transmission Substation. The situation is such that the union is still obstructing grid recovery nationwide.

“We will continue to make efforts to recover and stabilise the grid to enable the restoration of normal bulk transmission of electricity to distribution load centres nationwide,” TCN said.

Labour had proposed N615,500 initially but as negotiations were going on between it and the federal government, it later dropped to N494,000, while government offered N60,000.

The groups, had on May 31, declared an indefinite strike, with effect from Monday, June 3, as the federal government refused to step up the bargain from N60,000, let alone accept the unions minimum wage proposal.

The concept of a minimum wage in Nigeria dates back to the 1950s. The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, as Premier of the Western Region, implemented the first minimum wage policy in 1954. Western Nigerian workers received a minimum wage that was double the amount paid their counterparts in other regions.

The first National Minimum Wage Law was enacted by President Shehu Shagari in September 1981, spurred by the advocacy of Nigerian Labour Congress led by Hassan Sunmonu. The law set a minimum wage of N125 per month, equivalent to approximately $204 at the time.

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