18 October 2013, Lagos – Fears that workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, may not get severance benefits before the assets of PHCN are handed over to the new owners heightened Thursday as the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, accused the Federal Government of deploying troops to PHCN facilities ahead of the November 1 planned hand-over to new owners.
The union claimed that deployment of troops were attempts by the Federal Government to cow and intimidate workers and hand over assets to new owners without paying wokers entitlements.
They, therefore, threatened that the industry would be shut down immediately the assets were handed over to new owners without payment of workers severance benefits.
In a petition through its General Secretary, Joe Ajaero, to the Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo, the union argued that the content of a circular by the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, to the ‘new owners of PHCN successor companies’ calling for a meeting with the National Security Adviser, NSA, today, had betrayed government intention.
The union warned that the November 1, 2013 handover date to the new investors would remain a mirage without conclusive resolution of labour issues.
According to the petition: “The circular, signed by one Ibrahim Baba Gana, acting Director, Electric Power – Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, we believe is immature and in bad faith.
“We wonder why Baba Gana would want to aggravate the relative peace we are having based on the understanding that payments would be concluded before handover. Could this be a way of getting back at his perceived enemies given the way he left PHCN?.”
– Victor Ahiuma-Young, Vanguard