Angry ex-workers of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, yesterday shut down the office of the Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE, for several hours, protesting the inability of BPE to facilitate the payment of their severance packages as well as short payment of their colleagues.
Determined to achieve result, the protesters in their numbers, armed with placards with inscriptions like ‘We need our RSA payment,’ ‘FG/BPE pay us our severance money,’ among other inscriptions, blocked the entrance to the office, thus denying staff and visitors entry and exit for several hours.
With the support and monitoring of a detachment of policemen, the ex-workers accused the bureau of under payment of some of them, non-issuance of ‘yellow form’ untimely disengagement as against the agreement reached with their union before the privatization, as well as other anti labour practices.
Leacder of the group, Comrade John Agbakhode told Nigerian Pilot that payment of the severance packages of the ex-workers ought to have been made in March and latest April, after their verification and completion of the ‘yellow form,’ but some of them were yet to be paid while others were under-paid.
He said that the protest was a follow up to the one done early in the year at the office of the Accountant General of Federation, which obviously reawakened the consciousness of both the officials of the office and the BPE to the plight of the ex-workers, some of whom he said were exposed to hardship and affliction that led to their sudden death.
Some of the ex-workers complained that they had been subjected to series of verification which they had completed, thus qualifying them for payment from the concerned officials, “but years after the verifications, nothing has been done as regards the payment of the workers.”
One of them who identified himself as Stanley from Jos zone blamed the top officials of the zone for the deliberate delay in the payment of the severance packages of the ex-workers from the zone.
“They once threatened to arrest me with State Security officials when I was invited to Bauchi during one of the verification exercises. That is a pointer that something is fishy,” he said.
However, success was made when the director general, Mr. Benjamin Dikki, delegated one of the directors, Ibrahim Baba Gana, to address the angry ex-workers who had for several hours denied staff and visitors entry and exit into the premises.
The director apologised to the protesters for the delay in the payment of their severance packages, attributing it to minor administrative lapses that would be resolved between the leadership of the ex-workers and BPE.
He also did not rule out “shortcomings” from the Office of Accountant General of the Federation.