15 April 2014, Abuja – Fresh facts emerged on Monday that thousands of workers in the electricity generation and distribution companies would lose their jobs as the six-month contractual employment given to them by the new investors expires on April 30.
Already, tension is mounting across the companies as the workers’ fate hangs in the balance.
The Federal Government had on November 1, 2013, handed over to private investors the 11 distribution and four generation companies carved out of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria.
The government had ordered the retrenchment of no fewer than 20,000 PHCN workers ahead of the takeover of the 18 successor companies. This was said to be in response to the demands of the new investors, who wanted the 50,000 plus PHCN workforce reduced before the takeover.
Though 47,913 PHCN workers were disengaged following the privatisation of the power firms, the new investors were contractually required to retain some workers.
About 25,000 workers, experts said, might have been retained by the new investors following an agreement with the BPE.
One of the retained workers, who did not want to be named, said, “They gave all of us disengagement letters and this was jointly done by the new investors and the BPE. However, the investors retained some of us and gave us engagement letters for a six-month contractual employment, which ends on April 30. So, they have the right to sack or retain whoever they wish.”
Our correspondent gathered that some of the investors were already carrying out the reassessment of the current workforce in order to determine those who would remain in the system after April 30.
It was specifically learnt that the NEDC/KEPCO Consortium, which owns the Ikeja Disco and Egbin Power Plc, contracted KPMG to carry out the competency validation and reassessment of workers.
A source, who works with the company, said though all the workers had received their entitlements from the government, tension was mounting because many of them might be disengaged by the end of the month.
“Because there can’t be a vacuum in the sector, everyone who will come to work on May 1 would have known by April 30,” the source said.
Following the privatisation of the PHCN and its successor companies, the Ikeja Disco went to NEDC/KEPCO; Eko Disco to West Power and Gas; Port Harcourt Disco to 4Power Consortium; Benin Disco to Vigeo Consortium; Jos Disco to Aura Energy; and Abuja Disco to Kann Consortium.
Similarly, Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Company took over the Ibadan and Yola Discos; Sahelian Power took over the Kano Disco; while Ughelli Power Plc went to the Transcorp/Woodrock Consortium.
The Geregu Power Plc was handed over to Amperion; Kainji Power Plc went to Mainstream Energy Limited; Sapele Plc to CMEC/EUAFRIC Energy JV and Shiroro Hydropower Station was handed over to North South Power Company.
The government, through the Bureau of Public Enterprises, had spent N360bn to settle the terminal benefits of 51,247 PHCN workers.
Of the 51,247 workers, the Director-General, BPE, Mr. Benjamin Dikki, had in December 2013, said 47,913 were active members of staff, while 3,334 were retired workers of the company.
The PUNCH had on Friday reported that about 1,580 workers of the Jos Electricity Distribution Company and Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company would be relieved of their appointments when their contract employment ends on April 30.
Specifically, the Jos Disco was said to be planning to sack 1,000 of its workers, while the Ibadan Disco had pencilled down 580 names for disengagement.
A source in the National Union of Electricity Employees, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, confirmed that the Jos Disco would have sacked 1,000 workers last week but for the intervention of the union.
The source reiterated that the managements of some of the power firms were finding it difficult to pay salaries, hence the mass sacking at the end of April.
As such, he said several thousands of workers would definitely be asked to go as the new investors continued to battle with huge funding requirements to plug technical, operational and infrastructure loopholes bedevilling the sector.
He, however, warned that the investors had the right to retain or sack any worker considering the fact that their employment was temporary.
– The Punch