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FG Set To Sack 20,000 PHCN Workers

The Federal Government has ordered the retrenchment of no fewer than 20,000 workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, ahead of takeover by successful bidders of its assets.

It was gathered that the Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE, issued the directive to the Chief Executive Officers, CEOs, of the 18 successor companies to PHCN at a meeting in Abuja, to compile names and drastically reduce the 50,000 strong workforce before the new investors take over.

Though it is not clear how government arrived at this figure, however, General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, Mr Joe Ajaero, who confirmed the directive to massively retrench the workforce, said it was obvious that the Federal Government had decided to truncate the implementation of the collective agreement reached with the unions.

Already, organised labour had kicked against the move and warned the government against such action even as the agreement reached between both parties in December 2012 on the terminal benefits of workers had not been implemented.

The Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, SSAEAC, has petitioned the government through the Federal Ministry of Labour to explain the dangers and futility of government action when agreement on terminal benefits had not been honoured by the government.

On its part, NUEE directed members to shut down the power sector once any worker is issued a retrenchment letter without a financial back up in line with the December 2012 agreement.

NUEE, in a statement by Ajaero, rejected the planned retrenchment of workers without honouring the agreement the government entered into with the workers.

According to NUEE, “our attention has been drawn to the nocturnal meetings being held between Federal Government and all chief executive officers in Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, where a mandate to retrench workers in the power sector has been handed down to them. It is rather unfortunate and provoking that the Federal Government is hatching such obnoxious idea when agreement reached with the unions on payment of severance benefit is yet to be implemented.

“Information reaching us reveals that arrangement to close down PHCN’s Corporate Headquarters has been put in place. While people are still working, government plans to kill their management.

“It was equally gathered that the Federal Government has concluded plans not to pay pension or transfer money to the Pension Fund Administrators, PFAs, all in the name of driving workers to their early graves. We are worried that the government could be privatizing without cash backing, as information at our disposal suggests that about N43 billion is available out of the over N400 billion agreed with the unions.

“At the moment, agreement on certain indices to be used in calculating entitlements like life expectancy which the Federal Government put at 14 years is yet to be reconciled.

By this posture, it is obvious that the Federal Government has decided to truncate the implementation of collective agreement reached with the unions.

Nigerians should, therefore, hold government responsible for any reaction this action may generate.

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