PUBLIC Service International, PSI, umbrella body for public service workers worldwide, has petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan over the recent deployment of armed Soldiers to Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, facilities nationwide and perceived harassment of labour leaders in the sector.
In a petition by Peter Waldoref, PSI General Secretary, the group urged the Federal Government to restrain itself from the use of agencies such as Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, State Security Service, SSS, the Police, and military to intimidate the union and workers of PHCN.
The petition read in part: “It is with alarm that we note the military occupation of power stations throughout the country. This occupation comes under the guise of protecting the facilities and workers against possible threats from Boko Haram. However, we see another purpose, which is to intimidate the workers and their union leaders in order to have them cease and divert their opposition to privatization of the energy system.
“This military occupation was used not less than four months ago to stop an industrial dispute. We are aware of the politicizing of the electricity sector where certain parties, including in your government,?? have personal interests to run down the sector in order to use the opportunity ??to privatize under the guise that the public sector has failed.
“National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE’s opposition to privatization is based on the more than 20 years of experience in many countries with energy privatization. The impact of these privatizations has been almost uniformly negative. Your policy makers should study these experiences in greater detail, and give you less biased advice on the greatest good for all of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“The NUEE has not been confrontational to your Government and recently engaged in dialogue as a partner so that our views can be heard and taken on board. The continued arrests and intimidation of NUEE members is a negation to civilized ways of resolving conflicts in our modern society which guarantees freedom of association and right to expression of opinion.”
The PSI also said argued that the use of force and aggression would not be in the interest of all Nigerians. “We support a strengthened PHCN in public hands, with much improved transparency, accountability and participation in decision-making processes. The country has sufficient funds to provide modern, reliable and affordable electricity to all Nigerians, which will provide key support to job creation and poverty reduction.
“We have provided policy suggestions to your Government and stand ready to support your decision-making. Our unions in Nigeria are committed to ongoing open dialogue with all stakeholders to improve the quality public services upon which we all depend. We urge the Government to restrain itself from the use of agencies such as EFCC, SSS, Police, and military to intimidate the union and workers of PHCN.”