15 August 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – NIGERIA’s electricity workers say they will plunge the nation into total darkness if the meeting between the government and organised labour today (Wednesday) in Abuja fail to resolve contentious issues regarding the privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.
The issues specifically concern the payment package of of PHCN workers penciled down for privatisation and the continued occupation of PHCN offices by soldiers on the orders of the Federal Government.
Issuing the threat in Benin Tuesday shortly after a meeting of the members of the union, Zonal Organising Secretary 1 of National Union of
Electricity Employees (NUEE), Edo/Delta Zone, Comrade Joseph Ndem, told journalsists that the electricity workers were prepared to withdraw their services should the intervention by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, fail.
Ndem urged Nigerians to see with electricity workers on the reason for their decision to embark on strike and maintained that the government through the Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, was short-changing them on their entitlements.
He said the workers were prepared to withdraw their services from the PHCN if all their entitlements are paid to them, adding, “We will not stay a day longer in the establishment.”
Ndem stated that though electricity workers have conceeded to the government in several areas with the aim of resolving the current crisis, the Minister of Power has been trying to ensure that the workers are deprived of their entitlements by misadvising the government.
Commenting on the deduction of the seven-and-a-half per cent pension from the workers, he said: “In the past, we had a compact system that you hardly discovered fraud in terms of pension deductions. The 25 per cent that was taken from the salary, the record is there and that is always accounted for.
“That is why we also keyed into the investigation of the 25 per cent account and how the money could not be found, and that is why they have now decided to pay us 15 per cent when the minister said so.
“We are happy that the committee has commenced sitting today and the first persons that would testify are the unionists,” he said.
Ndem decried as laughable the story credited to the minister that electricity workers did not deserve the payment of their gratuity, saying that workers wherever they have worked are entitled to their gratuities.