13 August 2012,Sweetcrude, LAGOS – THE Federal Government has deployed soldiers to Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, installations in Lagos, which is already causing disquiet in the labour movement.
The armed soldiers’ who were said to have been deployed between Thursday and Saturday were, according to labour sources, stationed at the installations under the Ikeja Distribution Company, such as Ikeja, Ikotun, Akowonjo and Ikorodu business units.
However, an unsigned statement by the Ministry of Power, Sunday, said “the deployment of security personnel since last September to PHCN facilities was to assist police officers protect the assets worth billions of dollars and the people working there.
The Ministry of Power also said contrary to the argument of labour, no employee of PHCN contributed 25 percent of his or her salary to the superannuation fund.
According to the statement, “If there were contributions to the pension scheme by any PHCN personnel at all, they are not reflected in the books or bank accounts of the pension scheme. The trustees of the scheme are officials of the trade unions in the power sector and the PHCN management, who are the sole signatories to the bank accounts.
‘The Federal Government has never been involved in the management of the PHCN Pension Scheme. In other words, if there is any case of fraud or misappropriation of funds, the workers should know those to be held responsible.”
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and its allies are threatening nationwide strike over soldiers’ takeover of the corporate headquarters of PHCN, and alleged refusal of government to settle pending labour issues ahead of planned privatization of PHCN.
General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, Comrade Joe Ajaero, told Vanguard that “when we talk about insincerity of the government, people think we do not know what we are saying.
Soldiers takeover of PHCN corporate head office has generated tension and crisis in the sector for which labour may commence a nationwide strike in the days ahead.
“The Minister of Labour is calling for a meeting on Wednesday, between labour and government while at the same time the government through the Minister of Power on Saturday deployed more soldiers to take over of PHCN installations in Ikeja, Ikotun and Ikorodu business units.”