SENIOR Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, SSAEAC, is not finding Federal Government’s announcement that N384 billion will be used to settle the terminal benefits of workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, ahead of the privatization of PHCN’s assets, funny.
The association has not only rejected it like its National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE counterpart, but went further to petition the Minister of Power, reminding the Government that labour, only gave conditional support to the planned privatization of the sector.
SSAEAC in the petition through its President-General and General Secretary, Engineer Bede Opara and Biodun Ogunsegha, a lawyer, warned government that if it went ahead with the process of privatization without carrying labour along, it would be definitely counter- productive.
The petition read “In furtherance of the agreement that the Unions in the Power Sector signed with Government on 11th December, 2013, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), engaged the services of an International Consultant: Alexander Forbes, to compute, using the necessary variables to arrive at the total terminal benefits due to staff of PHCN and also determine the individual benefits. The Unions were invited to work with the Consultancy and BPE, to diligently carryout this assignment.”
“At the meeting with the Consultant that was held on 14th to 15th January, 2013 in Lagos, our representatives (of the two in-house unions) on the computation of terminal/severance benefits, reported fundamental observations/errors in the computation as follows: the salary scale used in computing Gratuity is not PHCN Salary scale as at June 2012, as agreed with negotiation team under the leadership of SGF.
Souvenir entitlement was omitted in computation of total entitlements, as agreed with Comrade Hassan Sumonu Committee, in compliance with our 2010 Conditions of Service. The variables used in the formula for annuity by the consultant are not realistic: (a) interest rate, (b) inflation rate (c) discount rate, and (d) life expectancy of each staff. Alexander Forbes used:
?5% as inflation rate (pension increase), instead of current rate of 12.5%.
?14% as discount rate, while the current rate is 11%.
The data used for all staff are not correct in addition to unclear assumed life expectancy of each worker.”
According to SSAEAC, “We are left with no option than to bring this to your notice, for immediate redress by directing the Consultants through the BPE to correct these abnormalities to enable the reform to go on as planned. While our Union and staff re-affirm our conditional acceptance of Government reform despite our preferred position, we will not allow our members to be cheated.
Any attempt to the contrary of the agreement reached will be resisted by the workers. It is in the light of the above that we were surprised at the announcement of a N384 billion approval by the Federal Executive Council as representing total terminal benefits to PHCN Employees.”
“This announcement was grossly misplaced because the Alexander Forbes Consultant engaged by BPE, had not concluded his assignment and no figure had been emanated from his work. We do not understand the rational for announcing such a figure. It should be noted also that, only the Unions as representatives of the workers can confirm the basis of computations while individual staff will verify their data.
The proposed issuance of statements of workers’ terminal benefits at the exclusion of our Association headquarters by BPE will be counter-productive. The earlier this verification of staff data is done the better for progress of the reforms. We remind the government that our support for the reform is conditional upon the final settlement of all labour liabilities, hence the long period of negotiations and the resultant Agreement which upheld our Condition of Service 2010.
It would be recalled that barely 24 hours after the government said it had approved N384 billion for the payment of all entitlements of workers of PHCN, and process of the payment expected to begin a day after (21-02-13), NUEE rejected government position, threatening to shut down the industry, should government fail to reverse its position and perceived provocative utterances.