The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has said the initial counter-directive issued to casual workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) by executives of their various unions was responsible for the delay in regularising their employment status with the utility company.
Director General, BPE, Benjamin Dikki, told reporters on the sidelines of the just-concluded Nigeria International Power Expo and Conference in Abuja that the bureau had just started the process of authenticating the profiles of the casual workers because the union leaders had asked the workers not to engage with the government until they were directed to do so.
Dikki informed that the BPE had started with the biometric verification of the workers until the unions gave the counter-directive, but added that the process had commenced with request for names and profiles of casual workers from the various successor companies of PHCN.
“There is also the issue of the casuals who are to be regularised, there has been some delay in the regularisation because, initially labour told them not to cooperate; they at one point said, don’t interact with the government, we will give you directives and that delayed the process of doing biometric captures for the casuals.
“We have done some but some were afraid and we now need information on these casuals from the PHCN companies so that we can continue with the biometric on them, so that they will be paid,” Dikki said in response to a question on the status of the casual workers.
He added: “I want to assure every one of them that this is being done but I also want to flag out that there are some people that have issues; like we have about 6000 people of the staff and we have cleared, verified and audited 38,000 with biometric capture and all the details, their money is in the process or already credited with their benefits.
“The 6,000 that we have, some of them raised questions about the computation of their entitlements; we calculated the entitlements of all PHCN staff and gave them a benefit statement with detailed breakdown of all their entitlements which they have to sign that the computation is correct, it is that 38,000 that have signed that we have asked the office of the accountant general to pay but the 6000 have a couple of issues which ranges from complaints on incorrect date of engagement, incongruent identity to which we are working to rectify and as soon as we clarify that, we will pay them.”
He explained that every PHCN staff would get entitlement and there was absolutely no reason for any apprehension. According to him, instead of overheating the system by making sweeping statements, labour, which is stakeholder in this process could verify from the office of the accountant general of the federation the amount of money deposited with it.
“Labour should also contribute in making this thing succeed; it will not help if all these hyperbole are constantly used by labour to heat up the polity. We have given them the list of the 6,000 and casual workers and said, this people this is why we have not taken their names for payment, they have various issues, we have also distributed the list to the CEOs of the various successor companies and asked them to inform them of the reasons why they have not gone for payment just to avoid unnecessary apprehensions.”
The National Union Electricity Employees (NUEE) had at one time stated that the PHCN had over 10,000 casual workers within its contract employment that would be regularised so that they will partake in the payment of severance benefits in the privatisation process.
The biometric exercise would be conducted to identify and ascertain the actual number of casual workers with the PHCN.
Information from This Day was used in this report.