Thousands of workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, may lose their jobs as the Federal Government has ordered the retrenchment of no fewer than 20,000 ahead of takeover by successful bidders of its assets.
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, Vanguard reports, adding that the new investors demanded that the workforce must be pruned before government hands off.
Reacting to the issue, General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, Mr Joe Ajaero, who confirmed the massive retrenchment directive, said it was obvious that the Federal Government had decided to truncate the implementation of the collective agreement reached with the unions.
NUEE has therefore 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.
“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.
“While there is still opportunity for the Federal Government to follow due process, we wish to state unequivocally that PHCN workers will legitimately resist every attempt to shave their hair in their absence. Should the Federal Government make good its threat to retrench workers in the sector when labour issues have not been settled, all members are advised to stop work, while those monies paid into their accounts should be seen as free money. The hour has come for you to defend your rights,” the statement said.