The two in house union of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) – National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE)) and Senior staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) – have disclosed that the much hurried planned on privatization of the company by the Federal Government had yielded no agenda, as the company’s total assets worth N1.5trillion was undervalued for N200billion.
The workers further declared that the new tariff introduced by the government had jacked up the monthly revenue of the company from N18 billion to N25 billion to make it possible for purported buyers to safe land in acquiring the assets.
The General Secretary of NUEE, Mr. Joe Ajaero, explained that the for 14 months long negotiation between the Federal Government and labour unions that ended without concluding the most important issues of severance payment, gratuity and pensions, turned to a mere drama as government made u-turn to turn down workers request because it claimed it has no money to pay workers for assets of PHCN worth N1.5trillion, now to be valued for N200billion
He said: “The building assets, transformers, transmission cable lines, cars, poles of PHCN nationwide that is now valued for N200billion, though Government claimed the company liability is N400billion, when put together as total assets of PHCN is worth N1.5trillion.”
Ajaero, who is the current Deputy President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), called on “the Federal Government to sell PHCN to the workers for the planned N200billion to investors, stressing that the superannuation fund of 25 per cent deducted from workers, meant for pensions and gratuity in PHCN stood at N400billion in June 2010, which Government has not accounted for, can be used to settle for PHCN, and the balance paid back to workers”
Also speaking at the event, the President of SSAEAC, Mr. Bede Opara, who kicked against proposed plan by the government to merge gratuity and pension to be paid as severance in line with the new pension reform Act 2004, insisted “that government must pay workers gratuities as end of service benefits in line with the stipulations of condition of service which PHCN operates with its workers before now”
He said: “Government must pay appreciable severance package as it is the practice all over the world. Government must pay workers; pensions in accordance with the 25 per cent set aside from salaries of PHCN staff for the settlement of all workers’ benefit continuation of the exercise practice in PHCN in the past years.”
Opara, while calling on the Federal Government to stop forcing workers in PHCN to open Retire Savings Account (RSA) when the payment of workers’ benefits was yet to be finalized, said: “It would be foolhardy for Government to claim at this time that it has no money to finance its privatization programmes by paying its labour liabilities.
“The same Government that has enough money to mount media campaign and attack on the unions at the onset of its programme is now claiming that it has no money to pay our benefits thereby attempting to shortchange us on our entire request.”