N170bn inadequate for our severance pay —PHCN workers

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Power Holding Company of Nigeria workers  have said that the N170bn the Federal Government says it is ready to pay as severance package to them  is grossly inadequate.

.The Secretary-General, National Union of Electricity Employees, Mr. Joe Ajaero, told our correspondent that the agreement reached with the government  never meant that all issues had been resolved. He noted that the government had also contradicted itself by saying it would pay about N170bn to the workers whereas the sum demanded by the workers was in excess of N500bn.

He said, “The very fact that an agreement is signed doesn’t mean the problem is over, it is the  implementation that will determine the end of the problem. Besides, the mention of N170bn by the Ministry of Power as the money provided for the settlement  of staff entitlements clearly portrays them as people who have made up their minds to truncate the process.

“For avoidance of doubt and from the result of the agreement, the staff accrued pay-off is above N500bn and one component of this pay-off is more than N170bn.”

Ajaero said the ministry was only trying to create confusion and insisted that the workers would not be intimated by whatever action the government would want to use against them.

He said,“As a union, we want to assure the executives of the ministry, who increased the number of soldiers in all PHCN installations in the last few days, that we are more than committed more than ever before to resist any attempt by anti-worker agents in the ministry to undermine the workers or even contemplate batch payment which was used to short-change NITEL staff.

“PHCN workers are therefore advised not to open any Retirement Savings Account until an actuarial valuation by bodies endorsed by their representatives are concluded. You can now see that the problem has just started by the attitude of this people not obeying even what they signed.”

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Dr. Dere Awosika, while speaking at a power summit in Lagos recently, had said the Federal Government would pay N170bn to the workers as pension and gratuities.

In his reaction, the President-General, SSAEAC, Mr. Bede Opara, said no worker would allow any investor take over any PHCN outlet until all agreements were adequately settled.

He said, “What was resolved and concluded last Tuesday was the negotiation between labour and the Federal Government. So what happened that day was that we reached a resolution, but we are now waiting for implementation. Before investors take over, there must be implementation. It is after implementation that investors will be allowed to come and take whatever they have paid for.”

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