Employees of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) Wednesday alerted the federal government of a looming industrial crisis in the power sector should it go ahead to secretly handover the assets of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to private investors without the conclusion of payment of workers entitlements.
Speaking under the umbrella of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), the union threatened to shut down the industry should the investors go ahead to take over on paper without allowing the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and government to conclusively sort out the outstanding labour issues with the workers.
This, it stated, would be assumed that investors have equally accepted to pay the outstanding liabilities to the workers.
A statement issued by the union’s Secretary, Joe Ajaero, pointed out that members had shown enough patriotism and high level of understanding in the discourse and warned that it could no longer guarantee the safety of any investor, who may wish to dare the union.
The statement read: “It has come to our notice that the federal government through the BPE has resolved to throw the power sector into turmoil by secretly handing over the sector on paper. We are also aware that all the Chief Executive Officers of the supposed unbundled companies of PHCN have been called to Abuja and directed to bring their letter-headed papers with a view to signing off on paper in favour of the investors. However, we wish to advise the investors not to fall into the trap set up by the BPE and government who were not able to conclusively clear the outstanding huddles in relation to outstanding labour issues with the workers.
“Should the investors go ahead to take over on paper without allowing the BPE and government to conclusively sort out the outstanding labour issues with the workers, it would be assumed that they (investors) have equally accepted to pay outstanding labour liabilities. Therefore, they must be prepared to pay at the gate of entry, every dime due the workers before they are allowed in. For clarity, please note that these issues are outstanding: payments of terminal benefits; payment of the terminal benefits is yet to rise up to 50 per cent for the eligible workers, non-payment of retirement savings fund to Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs): Up till this moment, no efforts has been made to commence payment. The PFAs can attest to this fact; non-remittance of two per cent of the union deductions as agreed: No word has been heard from the BPE/government on remittance of this two per cent neither has the deductions already made from the paid workers remitted to the unions.”
“Non-payment of retirees who disengaged since 2011: It is absurd and sordid for government not to think of settling these people who laboured over the years in service of this country and get retired meritoriously, while the privatisation exercise was on. Non regularisation of some of the casuals already identified: With the biometrics done and concluded, it becomes worrisome on the continued delay in regularising the casuals who had been identified based on agreements already entered into. 10 per cent equity shareholding by the workers: In line with the relevant laws, the workers are entitled to 10 per cent equity share of the total sale of PHCN. But it appears the government is bent on short-changing the workers.
“The shortfall of terminal benefits from June 2012 till date has not been considered for payment. Based on the foregoing, we reiterate our advice to the investors to ensure that they do not fall into the trap of the BPE/government by taking over on paper. This is so because we will not wish to allow our labour over the years to go in vain.
“Please, steer clear PHCN facilities until all labour issues are resolved. We equally appeal to good people of Nigeria to show understanding and bear with us, should we decide to dance to this music being played by BPE.”
Information from This Day was used in this report.