PHCN Workers Set on a Showdown as Handover to Private Investors Loom

THE stage appears set for a major confrontation between the Federal Government and workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, tomorrow, over the planned handover of PHCN’s assets to new owners amidst alleged non-payment of severance benefits to workers, among other pending issues.

While the Federal Government, yesterday, insisted that it would go ahead with the planned handover of the assets to new owners despite the threat of a nationwide strike by workers, organised labour on the other hand, directed workers to withdraw their services from any unit should military personnel attempt to forcefully take over PHCN installations from November 1, 2013.

Speaking through the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Godknows Igali, the government said after a meeting of stakeholders in the power privatisation process with Vice President Namadi Sambo, that it was not nursing any fear about the physical hand over of the assets to new owners.

The Permanent Secretary claimed that 40,093 out of the 47,913 identified PHCN workers had been fully paid their entitlements, saying the money so far spent on the disengaged staff of the PHCN stood at N294.4 billion, out of which N214.2 billion was for severance benefits while pension was N80.2 billion.

While reiterating that the documents of additional 605 workers who were validated on Tuesday had been sent for payment, the Permanent Secretary said the severance benefits were paid directly into the bank accounts of beneficiaries while the gratuity payments were made to their pension fund custodians.

Mr Igali admitted that the biometric capturing of some disengaged staff was corrupted but assured that such affected staff had been invited to Abuja for recapturing.

He said 2,500 workers’ cases were bad because they had no record that they were PHCN workers, arguing that those identified as genuine PHCN staff would be addressed.

However labour under the umbrella of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, in the statement by its General Secretary, Mr. Joe Ajaero, said “We are worried over the Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE, desperate moves to physically handover PHCN facilities to the investors without conclusively resolving labour and labour-related issues.

“This plan negates the agreement we had with the Government/BPE that all the issues would be resolved before physical handover.”

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