N384bn benefit: Labour alleges 12 PHCN staff kidnapped

Victor Ahiuma-Young

04 March 2013, Sweetcrude, Abuja – ORGANISED Labour has raised alarm that no fewer than four workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, have been killed while 12 others have been kidnapped, with several others injured less than two weeks after the Federal Government announced the release and payment of N384billion workers’ terminal benefits.

The union under the umbrella of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, claimed the said amount was not only fictitious, but used to deceive investors that labour issues had been resolved for them to sign agreement with government.

At a briefing on the outcome of the union’s National Executive Council, NEC, meeting, the union handed down a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to among others, withdraw the announcement of what the union called N384billion terminal benefits, including the use of “sacked workers” to describe PHCN staff failing which the sector will be shut down from March 15, 2013.

Speaking on behalf of the union, its General Secretary, Comrade Joe Ajaero, said while over 12 members had been kidnapped in the South East, four had been killed in the North East and several others, including union’s chairmen sustained various degrees of injury in Borno State among others.

Ajaero said: “NEC -in-session expressed worry and disappointment at the pace the Federal Government is misinforming the general public over payment of staff emoluments in the power sector thereby exposing our members to serious security threats.

“NEC- session condemns the delay in completing the biometric reconciliation committee’s assignment which should have been concluded within two weeks of its inauguration .

“Consequently, the union demands that the committee winds up its activities for the regularisation of casuals by March 15, 2013.”

“The NEC -session vehemently condemns the scrapping of PHCN Corporate Headquarters through the back door which has been reflected in intentional removal of funds meant for it’s operations and payment of salaries. It called for the immediate reinstatement of PHCN Corporate Headquarters’ funding.

NEC-session condemns the non-payment of gratuity to retired staff and death benefits to the dependants of deceased members which has led to severe hardship for the families concerned. The union therefore demands immediate release of fund to settle these liabilities.”

“The NEC-session frowned at the stiff-necked attitude shown by the Director General of National Power Training Institute, NAPTIN, against the Director union’s position to stop the deduction of fund 7.5% from staff salaries in NAPTIN effective November, 2012 and immediately refund or fund the backlog.

It mandated the National Secretariat to take every necessary step to ensure total compliance with the union’s demand. The NEC-session condemns the continued militarisation of PHCN locations nationwide which has been observed to serve as a source of harassment and intimidation of it’s customers and calls for immediate withdrawal of military personnel from all PHCN locations.”

“The NEC-session observed and condemn the spate of insecurity and loss of lives and property of our members and Nigerian citizens nationwide in the recent series of insurgencies.

It calls on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency take necessary steps to secure the lives and property of it’s citizens. The NEC-session calls on the Federal Government to deliver the dividends of democracy through the provision of basic infrastructure, and quality education to the Nigerian people.

NEC-session condemns in strong terms government’s deceit and propaganda to break it’s ranks by presenting fictitious figures as staff terminal benefits when the consultants (Alexander Forbes) engaged by the Federal Government is yet to submit it’s report and the Technical Committee constituted by government is yet to conclude it’s assignment in this regards.”

“The NEC-session condemns in it’s entirety the word used by the Federal Government referring to PHCN staff as staff “sacked workers …” and unanimously agreed that if the phrase is not retracted, the workers shall have no alternative than to stop work as sacked workers are not supposed to report for duty.

Premised on the above mentioned, if by 15th March , 2013, the issues raised herein are not addressed, the workers will have no option than to take their destiny in their hand.”

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