NATIONAL Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, has said the no employer can deny workers the right to gratuity using the Pension Reform Act of 2004, which gave birth to the Contributory Pension Scheme, CPS, saying the agreement between government and Labour on the payment of pension and gratuity to Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, workers, has been faulted.
Before the agreement ahead of the privatization of PHCN’s assets, there had been a fierce debate between government/employers and organized labour on whether or not PRA 2004 abolished gratuity.
NUEE argued that following the agreement, employers who had mischievously contested that the PRA 2004, had abolished gratuity, even when the PRA did not say such, should pay their workers their gratuity.
Speaking to Pension and You, General Secretary of NUEE and Deputy President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, said the battle won over the gratuity in the power sector over was not for PHCN workers alone but, entire workers in Nigeria.
According to him, “We also took time to do some major researches on the items that constitute pension, and the items that constitute gratuity. The issue of gratuity was a call to duty for Nigerian workers. We were not doing it for PHCN workers alone but for Nigerian workers because we needed to set that precedence.
If they were being intimidated in other sectors to abandon gratuity which was becoming the norm, there was the need for us to prove that the Pension Reform Act, PRA 2004, at no time, merged gratuity with pension, being gratuitous. The government seemed to have captured many areas, so we decided to prove that PRA 2004 did not abolish pension.”
“By this landmark achievement, every sector will know that the issue of being gratuitous, which is a one off payment, at the end of service, cannot be confused with pension, which is payment for life. This is the major achievement which equally translates beyond PHCN.