A Review of the Nigerian Energy Industry

Electricity workers protest use of biometric exercise for pay rise

Victor Ahiuma-Young

2 November 2011, Sweetcrude, Lagos — Workers of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) have petitioned the Minister of Power, asking him to order the withdrawal of a circular to Chief Executive Officers of the company, claiming that biometric exercise for staff was a pre-condition for payment of negotiated 50 per cent salary increase, to avoid industrial unrest.

The workers under the National Union of Electricity Employees(NUEE) insisted that there was no time such agreement was reached with labour in the sector, saying “this confirms our earlier fears that some people within the system were bent on importing crisis into PHCN, where none exist.”

NUEE’s General Secretary, Mr Joe Ajaero, in the petition, said workers did not at any time reach agreement that there would be biometric for serving members of PHCN, even Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE’s involvement in the biometric exercise of casuals was not direct but at the level of only engaging a consultant.”

The workers said, “We are in receipt of a provocative memo sent to Chief Executive Officers of PHCN by Mr. H. Labo, citing biometric exercise for staff as a pre-condition for payment of the negotiated 50 per cent salary increase.

“We are not surprised at this satanic verse. This confirms our earlier fears that some people within the system were bent on importing crisis into PHCN, where none exist. For the avoidance of doubt and contrary to Point ‘A’ of the memo ‘that all employees are expected to undergo biometric exercise, as agreed by Federal Government and PHCN Labour Unions,’ this assertion by Labo is the biggest lie of the millennium.

To put the record straight, the relevant portion of the agreement reached on May 19, 2011 is reproduced below for your perusal.”
“It was agreed that a biometric verification exercise shall be jointly carried out by the PHCN management, the unions and BPE consultants to determine the number of casual workers in the employment of PHCN. In view of the next round of negotiations coming up in Elmina, Ghana, on July 20, 2011, the biometric verification exercise shall be conducted and concluded between June 1 and July 15, 2011.

The cut-off date for accepting casual workers as having been duly employed shall be December 31, 2009. In accordance with the extant Labour Act, once the appointment of those identified as casuals are verified, they shall forthwith be regularised.

Any recruitment beyond the cut off date must be justified by official authorisation by the Chief Executive Officers of the various Zones and Regions.”

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