Govt still indebted to 908 retired, dead PHCN workers

22 March 2016, Abuja –  The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has alleged that the federal government has not paid severance benefits to 908 of its members, who had either passed on or retired from service since the privatisation of defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

PHCN-workers

PHCN workers

NUEE also said in Abuja that about 2,233 of its members were yet to be fully paid their severance beefits by the government.

The union alleged that the government has continued to hesitate on making the payments almost three years after the PHCN was unbundled and its components sold to private investors.

The union disclosed when it briefed journalists on the outcome of their opposition of the alleged recent takeover of the building of the corporate headquarters of the defunct PHCN building in Maitama by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Mr. Louis Edozien.

According to the union, Edozien came to the PHCN building and forced open doors of offices on the fourth and fifth floor having allegedly allocated the offices to the ministry’s officials and forced their previous occupants – officials of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) – out of the offices.

According to Senior Deputy General Secretary of NUEE, Mr. Cyprian Akoh and the union’s Zonal Organising Secretary, Temple Iworima, the Permanent Secretary was resisted and asked by the union to leave the headquarters building.

THISDAY however could not reach Edozien for comments on this as he did not take his calls and did also not respond to the SMS sent to his phone.
The officials of the union explained that since the unbundling and sale of the obsolete state power firm, the government had set up different technical committees to verify claims of former PHCN employees, yet the government has failed to complete the payments as agreed before the privatisation.

They told reporters that the relations or next of kin of the union’s dead members, as well as its retired members have been subjected to government’s claims of incomplete records and subsequent denial of their severance dues. They added that such development was not acceptable hence, a meeting with Edozien within this week.

“We got information that the permanent secretary was coming to take over the building. Before now, we told the government that they cannot take over the building because there are labour issues.

“They have not settled the 10 per cent equity that is meant for the labour in the power sector, as well as 16 months arrears they are supposed to pay the workers. There are underpayments and unpaid members and that is why we don’t want them to take over,” said Iworima.

Iworima further said: “The new minister and the permanent secretary have refused to listen to these issues and the last time they said all the residual PHCN staff should leave this building but we refused.

“However, they came here with thugs and started breaking down doors of offices. We resisted him and he left after the staff here came out and were shouting.”

Similarly Akoh said: “We got a letter from the same permanent secretary for a meeting next week and we were with him in a meeting last week to settle residual issues, but we were surprised to see him here breaking down doors of offices.

“There are a lot of people, over 908 people who died in the course of service and those who retired that are yet to be paid. We also have members who have been underpaid and they need to be paid.”

He stated: “Government has accepted all these but has also failed to do the necessary. It is important for the permanent secretary to come and occupy here but not to settle outstanding issues in the sector. The right thing must be done before they can take over this building.”

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