By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG & MICHAEL EBOH
Electricity workers have declared a showdown with the Federal Government over the issue of terminal benefits of staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, promising to plunge the country into darkness today, by shutting down all power installations across the country and also hold a mass protest.
This was in spite of claims by the Federal Government that the entitlements of about 94.79 per cent of former staff of PHCH have been paid, leaving about 4,538 staff who are currently being validated and will be paid once the verification is concluded.
Joe Ajaero, General Secretary, National Union of Electricity Employees NUEE, told Vanguard that the protest and shut-down, initially scheduled to hold Tuesday, had to be brought forward today, since Tuesday has been declared a public holiday.
Listing some of the union’s grievances, Ajaero said: “All the collective agreements entered into by the Union with Government in the power sector have all been violated.
“Over 10,000 workers in the power sector have not been paid a dime as their severance entitlement. “Over 25,000 workers have not received their pension components.
“Over 5,000 workers who retired statutorily are yet to be paid their gratuity. The death benefits of over 1,000 people who died in active service are yet to be paid to their families.”
He insisted that no staff of the defunct PHCN has been fully paid their terminal entitlements, saying Nigerians should ask the government to inform the public where the money that had been released for the payment of the benefits was being kept.
However, the Federal Government faulted NUEE’s claims that about 25, 000 PHCN staff are yet to be paid, saying that only 4.5 per cent of the purported workforce, representing about 4,538 staff are yet to be paid.