PHCN privatisation: Workers payoff hangs in the balance

Chimas Ugwuanyi

28 October 2012, Sweetcrude, Enugu – Reports filtering into Enugu,among PHCN workers, indicate fresh obstacles to speedy progress and conclusion of the newly resumed talks between them and the Federal government on what eventaully becomes their pension benefit, following the ongoing privatization.

The workers,who were found discussing in hushed tones friday, said their problem was now from the National Assmebly, particularly the House of Representatives Committee on Power, reported to be having reservations in giving a special treatment to the embattled PHCN workers.

It was gathered that the House of Reps Committee Chairman on Power, Patrick Ikhariale, is insisting that the issue of PHCN workers should be resolved in accordance with the provisions of the 2004 Pensions Act, which stipulates contribution of 7.5 per cent each by both the employee and the employer.

The Ikhariale committee contends that it would be wrong for the Government to pay 15 per cent to the workers of the PHCN, adding that this violates the 2004 Act since their counterparts in other establishmenents were entilted to 7.5 per cent under the contributory pension Law.

A labour leader who confirmed on Friday that the talks were expected to resume next week, however warned that government officials should avoid grandstanding on the issue.

Also, a vice-president of the National Union of Electricity Employees, Mr. Etete Ntukuben, epressed hope that “the talks would resume very soon”, but he couldn’t give a specific date.

The insistence of the lawmakers on 7.5 percent the FG’s offer 15 percent to the PHCN workers, as their pension arrears, while organised labour and the PHCN workers have stood on their earlier demand of 25 percent of the total emolument- which those government negotiators have so far not agreed with.

“One member of team had said that “even the 15 percent being proposed as a settlement to the wage dispute is being done on compassionate grounds, in the interest of peace.”

However, Ntukuben said Friday that the workers would insist on what the Pensiö law has stipulated:
. According to him, PHCN workers demand for 25 percent of total emoluments of their salaries was part of the condition of service
. He said the condition of service remained a legal document which shovld ce invoked in the resolution of the impasse between the workers and the FG, adding that that PHCN workers were akready losing confidence the present negotiator appoited by government and wanted her to come directly with an offer.

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  • It will appear these are teething problems associated with the privatisation of poorly run government owned and managed entities. We hope fervently that outstanding issues such as this will be resolved within the quickest possible time to keep the privatisation process on track.