By Victor AHIUMA-YOUNG
NATIONAL Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, has dismissed government claims that over 70 percent of the workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, have been paid their terminal benefits in preparation for private sector’s investors takeover of the assets of PHCN, saying the government is economical with the truth.
The Federal Government had on Wednesday last week said it had paid the severance benefits of over 70 per cent of the workers as it worked towards concluding the privatisation of the power sector, declaring that it would conclude the payment before the end of this week.
However, a union leader who spoke on condition of anonymity told Sweet Crude that the government was simply telling lies.
According to him, a “sizeable number of workers in Port Harcourt zone, are yet to receive the part-payment being made. Pockets of workers have only received in Ibadan and Jos so far while some workers are still battling to receive theirs in Corporate Headquarters, Abuja. Eight Distribution Companies (DISCO) stations out of 11 and the whole of Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN in the entire country have not been paid at all. Of about the 35% paid so far nationwide, it has been part-payment to each of them.”
NUEE had earlier spoken of the road blocks government was erecting ahead of the handover, saying, “our agreements takes effect from June 2012 and now because of their inability to implement the agreement, between June 2012 and July 2013, there is 13 months service that is not computed. So, because of that, we are going to have a show down with them. The 13 months service is not a National Youth Service to anybody.
The agreement we signed was in June 2012, and between June 2012 and now, we have 13 good months. How you compute this and add to workers’ entitlement is the issue that is on ground now. Nobody will tell you, after working for one year maybe you have worked for 10 years before, and you work for additional one year plus and you say that one year plus is for free. We have written to the Ministry of Power and up till now they have not acknowledge the letter. The ministry of power should be able to address even a letter by replying us to say we are not going to do this or that. We have written not less than 10 letters that they have refused to acknowledge.
However, the Federal Government last Wednesday, said it had paid the severance benefits of over 70 per cent of the workers of PHCN as it worked towards concluding the privatisation of the power sector, stressing that it would conclude the payment before the end of this week.
Speaking through the Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo, at a seminar organised by the TCN for the electricity market participants, said “As of today, we have paid off the benefits of at least 70 per cent of the workers. And as we finish the severance payment this week or next week, the next part will be the pension for the workers.”