Labour petitions govt over handover of PHCN assets on Nov. 1

NLC-300x225Citing pending issues, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has petitioned the Federal Government faulting the planned November 1, 2013 handing over of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to the new investors without the conclusion of payment of terminal benefits, retirement savings fund and remittance of two per cent of the union deductions as agreed.

Meanwhile, the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Benjamin Dikki, has re-affirmed that the Federal Government is committed to concluding the payment of all verified entitlements of members of staff of PHCN successor companies before the end of second week of October and immediately begin the process of physical handover of the assets to the winning bidders.

NLC, in a petition to the Federal Government, signed by General Secretary, Joe Ajaero, dated October 14, and made available to The Guardian yesterday, urged the government to handle the issues of non-payment of retirees who disengaged since 2011; non regularisation of some of the casuals already identified; 10 per cent equity shareholding by the workers and the shortfall of terminal benefits from June 2012 till date before the handover of the PHCN assets.

NLC stated in the letter that the union has been inundated of moves by the government to physically handover PHCN facilities to “the new investors” in the power sector without conclusively settling the labour issues as agreed.

It added: “Our assertion is predicated on the content of a circular made to the ‘new owners of PHCN successor companies’ calling for a meeting with the National Security Adviser (NSA) on October18, 2013.

“The circular, signed by one Ibrahim Baba Gana – Acting Director, Electric Power – Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), we believe is immature and in bad fate.

“We wonder why Baba Gana would want to aggravate the relative peace we are having based on the understanding that payments would be concluded before physical handover. Could this be a way of getting back at his perceived enemies given his ingloriously exit from PHCN.

“This slated meeting with the NSA we presume is aimed at deploying troops to all PHCN facilities in order to cow and intimidate the workers to take possession. But we are sorry to disappoint anyone in this vanguard of brutal possession as nothing will deter us from collecting our entitlements. Could it be that government is ready to waste over 50,000 Nigerians – which is the strength of our workforce and could this be the time?

“Please, we wish to state that the November 1, 2013 which has been slated for physical handover to the new investors will remain a mirage without the conclusive resolution of these issues as hereunder stated.”

Dikki disclosed that the funds required for the exercise have been remitted to the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation who has remitted same to the commercial banks for the payment of entitlements.

The director-general recalled that the Federal Government had earmarked the entire $2.6 billion proceeds expected from the sale of PHCN successor companies for the settlement of the benefits of members of staff.

 

Information from The Guardian was used in this report.

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