Confusion trails sack of PHCN staff, payment of benefits

PHCN protest12 November 2013, Lagos – The confusion trailing the November 1 hand-over of Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, facilities to new owners deepened yesterday, as reports indicated that thousands of workers of the defunct PHCN have been sacked with many of them yet to get their severance benefits.

The confusion that has led to erratic power supply across the country is also compounded by the fact that those who are being re-engaged are employed as casual workers on six months contract.

Already, organised labour in the sector has petitioned the Federal Government over the sack of almost all the union officials and casualisation of new employment, urging the authorities concerned to reverse the perceived anti-labour policy or risk industrial action without notice.

Investigations revealed that since the November 1 hand-over, not less than 60 percent of the entire workforce, including union officials, have been issued sack letters by the Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE, based on a rationalisation list allegedly prepared by the former Minister of Power, Professor Barth Nnaji.

While the hand-over was done on November 1, the sack letters being issued were dated October 21, ten days before the hand-over.

Similarly, the re-engagement letters were dated on October 21, 2013, and sample of the letter read: “Following the reforms in the power sector and the privatisation of PHCN successor companies, we wish to inform you that Eko Electricity Distribution Company has approved your engagement (position withheld) on a contract basis for a period of six (6) months effective from November 1, 2013 to 30th April 2014.

“The terms and conditions of service during the aforementioned period of your engagement are as set out in the attached contract.”

‘Dead employees’
A labour leader, who confirmed this, said: “The irony of that list is that it contains names of dead workers and staff who have voluntarily retired.”

On reports that about 60 percent of the workforce has been sacked, he said “they are just being hasty. You cannot sack 60 percent of the workers in one swoop. That is why there is confusion in the sector.

“We had an agreement with government that is expiring this Friday and until then, as a union we are not going to respond to some of these issues though there are meetings slated for today (yesterday) and tomorrow (today) between government and labour over some of these issues.”

Meanwhile, the National Union of Electricity Emplo-yees, NUEE, has petitioned the Federal Government through the Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo, over alleged sack of almost all the union officials in the sector and casualisation of jobs in the electricity sector, urging authorities concerned to reverse the perceived anti-labour policy or risk industrial action without notice.

– Vanguard

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