The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC on Wednesday rejected the 45 per cent hike in electricity tariffs announced on Monday by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC.
The commission announced the raise while also ending the N750 compulsory fixed charge for all categories of users.
Sam Amadi, whose tenure as chairman of the commission officially lapsed on Monday, said the new rates did not affect residential consumers in houses, flats or residences with electricity lifeline of 50kWh, classified as R1. This category of consumers would continue to pay N4 kWh for unit of electricity consumed.
Other categories of consumers, including residential customers using single and three-phase meters in the houses and residences, classified R2, and Commercial consumers using their residences as factory for manufacturing goods and classified as C2.
The new energy charges were revised from an average of N13.21kWh to N28.05kWh for R2; N23.61 kWh to N36.78 kWh for C1 and N29.98 kWh to N46.23 kWh for C2 consumers.
But, at the end of its Central Working Committee meeting in Abuja, the NLC rejected the hike, describing it as not justifiable.
“Any increment in electricity charge at this time when the challenges in the country’s economy have adversely reduced the purchasing power of the ordinary Nigerians and slowed down businesses, including manufacturing, is not justifiable,” the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, and General Secretary Peter Ozo-Eson, said in a statement.
“It is clear therefore that the 45% tariff increase is an additional heavy burden on consumers and will have a telling effect on business, especially manufacturing,” the union added.
While demanding that prepaid metres be made available to all consumers free of charge, the NLC leaders said the electricity distribution companies have always exploited Nigerians through estimated billing systems by deliberately refusing to make pre-paid metres available.
On removal of fuel subsidy and fuel price increase, the NLC said the discordant pronouncements from government officials on the two issues was creating panic and confusion in the system, even as it reaffirmed its opposition to any fuel price increase.
On minimum wage, the CWC said any attempt by any governor of any state of the federation to reduce or tamper with the minimum wage of workers, which is legally due for a review, would be vehemently resisted.
“The National Minimum Wage is a national law, which no governor can unilaterally review. We will mobilize all members of the Congress to any state that reviews downward the minimum wage, or resorts to laying off workers. The National Minimum Wage of N18, 000 has been rendered valueless by the mindless devaluation of the Naira and rising inflation,” the NLC said.