Organized labour in the nation’s power sector has said over 50,000 former employees of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, are still being owed benefits, while over 5,000 have not received any entitlement at all more than two years after the privatisation of power assets.
Labour, speaking through the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, also claimed that over N50billion meant for the payment of entitlements to ex-PHCN employees, has been lodged into fixed deposit accounts to yield interest to individuals while the beneficiaries are languishing in pains. In a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari, the union lamented that the 10 percent equity due to workers as contained in the Privatisation Act, are yet to be allotted to them.
The peitition said: “The 10% equity shareholding in a privatised PHCN, due to workers as contained in the Privatisation Act, is yet to be allotted. Substantial numbers of staff are yet to receive the pension components of their entitlements. There are cases of staff who have been verified but not yet paid their severance benefits, and cases of staff who statutorily retired from service but yet to be paid their respective gratuity.
There also cases of staff who are yet to be issued severance pay advice with 60 of them in Kainji Generation, 51 in Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company etc.
There are cases of death benefits due to be paid to dependants of staff who died in active service. Also, there is BPE’s refusal to embark upon pre and post retirement training for PHCN workers, with over 2 billion naira meant for this purpose yet to be declared.” NUEE in the petition, threatened unprecedented industrial unrest in the sector if the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, liquidated the remaining assets of PHCN without resolving pending labour issues.
The union recalled that since 2011, when the federal government started the sector reforms in line with the Power Sector Reform Act 2005, labour has been involved in series of discussions and negotiations with government representatives, with a view to resolving outstanding liabilities.
According to the petition, three sets of agreements were reached on labour liabilities, which include: The Agreement of December 11, 2012, titled: “Agreement in Respect of Labour Issues Affecting Staff of the PHCN” between claimant (NUEE) and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Federal Ministry of Power, and the Bureau of Public Enterprises.
The Agreement of October 31, 2013, titled: “Agreed Decisions between Government, Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, SSAEAC, and National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, on the Termination of Labour Related Matters and PHCN Handover Process,” between the claimant and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Federal Ministry of Power, and the Bureau of Public Enterprises”.