The Nigeria Union of Electricity Employees have urged the Federal Government to suspend the planned liquidation of the unbundled Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
The General Secretary of the Union, Mr Joe Ajaero, told journalists during a protest at the headquarters of the PHCN in Abuja on Friday that the Federal Government is yet to pay all severance packages to the workers of the electricity company.
The protesting workers insisted that over 5,000 of their colleagues are yet to be paid by the government.
Mr Ajaero questioned, “How then can you be talking about liquidation when you are owing the workers?
“We also learnt that there was a liquidator, but we have never met him as stakeholders.
“Any liquidator should have been able to meet with the workers of the establishment before talking of liquidation because these are the people you are owing, whom you must settle before you liquidate.”
Ajearo said that the Union also learnt that the liquidator was paid over 5 million naira for a period of six months that expired on October 18 and was supposed to take over between October 22 and 23.
“This is why we are protesting,” he said, “We are just sending a signal that any attempt to do it, we will resist it with force since we have not been settled.”
Ajaero urged the Federal Government to overhaul the entire privatisation process, noting that this had led to untold hardship on workers in the power sector.
“We want the Federal Government to pay us our entitlements and review the privatisation process because the Federal Government owns about 49% in the privatisation process along with the workers and the people that brought 51% have taken their 100 per cent share”, he added.
The Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, workers are gearing up for a nationwide strike to prevent the planned Federal Government handover on the grounds that their terminal entitlements have not been fully paid.
The National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, has directed its members to withdraw their services from all installations in the event of provocation by armed military personnel.
A statement signed by the Secretary-General of the union, Mr. Joe Ajaero, said the plan of the Federal Government to hand over the power assets negated the agreement it reached with the union to resolve all outstanding labour issues.
Mr Ajaero insisted that the gratuity payment was only 68% completed and that no member of the union has had their pension contributions transferred into their retirement savings accounts.
He said, “those that retired from service since 2011 have not received their benefits totaling about 19billion Naira. The differences of the shortfall of the terminal benefits from June 30, 2012 till date have not been considered for payment.
The statement further said “the question of 10% equity shareholding (in the companies) by the workers as statutorily provided has not been given attention”.
“While we appreciate and sympathise with the core investors, we ask for their understanding and that of the Nigerian public in our pursuit to ensure a seamless transition. We are resolute on receiving every kobo owed us, as we are sure such liabilities will not be borne by the new investors.”
It will be recalled that the Federal Government had earlier declared that it would go ahead with the physical hand over of the company’s assets to the new owners as scheduled on November the 1st, as announced by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry Of Power, Mr Godknows Igali, after a meeting with Vice President Namadi Sambo, on the power privatisation process.
Secretary General of the National Union of Electrical Employees, NUEE, Mr. Joe Ajaero says taking the company to a private individual is not the best and if it must be done, then the workers must be paid their entitlement.
Mr. Joe added that they are to meet with the Labour Minister on Wednesday, to know what their entitlement is especially for managers. he also said the union will discuss about the soldiers deployed at PSM installations.
He further added that there is need to still talk about the way forward.