Labour raises fresh alarm over benefits for PHCN workers

Electricity workersEluonye Koyegwuaehi

17 October 2013, Sweetcrude, Lagos – ORGANISED Labour in the Nigeria’ electricity industry, has raised fresh alarm over payment of severance benefits payment for workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, ahead of rumoured next Month’s physical hand-over of PHCN assets to new owners.

Under the aegis of Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, SSAEAC, labour has dismissed government claims that most of workers of PHCN, have been paid their terminal benefits, describing the claims as complete falsehood.

According to the association, only a hand full of the employees had actually been paid while none had his or her Retirement Savings Account, RSA, credited with pension contribution as agreed last year.

In a petition to the Minister of Power, the association claimed the money alleged to have been paid to the workers after the October 2, agreement with government had not reflected in the workers’ accounts, reiterating labour’s earlier threat that no new owners would take physical possession of PHCN assets until all workers had been paid their terminal benefits.

The petition by SSAEAC President-General and Secretary General, Engineer Bede Opara and Barrister Abiodun Ogunsegha, insisted that workers would shut down the sector should effort be made to physically take over the assets without full payment of workers benefits.

According to the petition “We state here that in our meeting with the Chairman, Implementation Committee, Permanent Secretary, Federal Minister of Power on Wednesday 2nd Oct, 2013, it was agreed that payment of terminal benefits of PHCN staff entitlements will be concluded in two weeks from that date. However we note that up to this moment, only a handful of payment has been made, What we heard or read in the Newspapers is that Government intend to physically hand over the PHCN infrastructures to the investors on 1st of November, 2013.

“We state that this will negate and violate the understanding and agreement reached with the Unions and we stand clearly to state again that we shall resist any physical handover until all payments are concluded. Information available to is as follow; Benin 50% not paid yet, Jos 55% not paid yet, Sapele 77 people not paid, Egbin 60 people not paid yet, Ughelli 61 people not paid yet, Afam 67 people not paid yet, Kaduna 100% yet to collect – nobody has been paid. Jebba 219 yet to be paid Abuja Over 1000 not paid, Transmission -None has been paid and RSA entitlements not paid to anyone

“The petition added “Government had said and made us to believe money needed was available. We also got the assurance of the Accountant-General of the Federation that money is available to pay. Who is holding the money or refusing to release to the beneficiaries. Government should act now; else no one should blame the Labour Union for any action that should be taken.”

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