21 March 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – The Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) has challenged the allegation that 17,000 ghost workers were uncovered at the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in the biometric verification exercise carried out by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) in the company.
At a news conference in Lagos, national president of SSAEAC, Bede Opara, challenged the BPE to publish the names of the identified ghost workers.
Referring to the biometric exercise and verification of all workers in the power sector (both permanent and casuals) as faulty, he maintained that the regular staff that participated in the exercise were not all captured and cleared by the consultant that carried out the exercise.
Opara stated that the regular workers so affected have not been paid their monthly salaries for over three months, lamenting that it was the workers in this category that had been dubbed ghost workers.
He said: “Several of such staff which included chief executive officers, general managers, and national officers of the in-house union etc who are visible in their various work locations during the verification exercise were not captured and have been denied their monthly emoluments for over three months.
“This is a high level of insensitivity that an employer/government could deny its workers their legitimate remunerations and in-turn referred them as ghost workers. This is just an attempt to call a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Definitely it would be an exercise in futility.”
Mr. Abiodun Ogunsegha, general secretary of SSAEAC, at the event, alleged that many names were imported by the ministry of power during the verification exercise.
He said the purported 17,000 ghost workers claim by government was an attempt to blackmail workers who agreed to the exercise to demonstrate their sincerity of purpose.
He said: “The agreement reached on December 2 and 3, 2011 stated clearly that all matters relating to biometric verification exercise would be concluded on or before December 20, 2011 and the casuals that were biometrically captured will be regularised immediately.
“When the 4th round of negotiation wound up, not a single casual was regularised. A new target date of March 12 was subsequently set for the Consultant to conclude the exercise and the casuals be regularised.
“The biometric exercise conducted for the casuals was characterised of strange names and non-capturing of existing casuals; considered as an aberration of the agreement reached on the exercise. The 4,106 casuals reportedly captured and cleared out of over 11,000 by the consultant is therefore suspected to be an unrealistic figure.”
According to him, all efforts by the unions to have the issues adequately addressed by government yielded no positive result, with the result that the unions are left with no other option than to take their destiny into their hands.