The Nigeria Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has urged the Federal Government to suspend the planned liquidation of the unbundled Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
Mr Joe Ajearo, the General Secretary of the union, made the call during a protest by the workers on Thursday in Abuja.
Ajaero said that the planned liquidation must not take place without settling outstanding major labour issues in the sector.
“As at today, the Federal Government is still owing PHCN workers over N50 billion and all the staff are being owed one entitlement or the other.
“About 5,000 people have not been paid their severance and other benefits; so, how then can you be talking about liquidation, when you are owing the workers?
“We also learnt that there was a liquidator; but we have never met him as stakeholders; any liquidator should have been able to meet with the workers of the establishment before talking of liquidation.
“Because these are the people you are owing, whom you must settle before you liquidate.”
Ajearo said that the union also learnt that the liquidator was paid over N5 million for a period of six months that expired on Oct. 18 and was supposed to take over between Oct. 22 and Oct. 23.
“This is why we are protesting; we are just sending a signal that any attempt to do it, we will resist it with force since we have not been settled.”
He urged the Federal Government to overhaul the entire privatisation process, adding that this had led to untold hardship on workers in the power sector.
“We want the Federal Government to pay us our entitlements and review the privatisation process.
“Because, the Federal Government owns about 49 per cent in the privatisation process along with the workers and the people that brought 51 per cent have taken their 100 per cent share.
“Since after privatisation up till now, our own equity share is not given to us so, why are you liquidating.
“As at today, three sectors in the PHCN have not been privatised and that includes the distribution, generation and transmission of power.
“So, what are we liquidating; we really want the Federal Government look into these issues properly,” Ajearo said.
In his reaction, a representative of the Joe Gazama Chambers in charge of the liquidation process who simply identified himself as Tunde, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), that there was no formal communication between the union and the chamber.
Tunde, said that the company had held several meetings with the workers but not the union.
“ I do not have much to say to press now because I was sent here as a representative and all I want is for us to sit and discuss this issue, ”he added.
NAN reports that the protesters carried placards with various inscription such as “FGN settle our outstandings before liquidation”, “For industrial peace suspend liquidation of PHCN”.
Others read “FGN what happens to our agreement on 10 per cent equity”, “BPE, no payment of 16 months arrears of salary”,“ FGN, should liquidation of PHCN Headquarters be paramount to you or welfare of disengaged staff?’’
NAN reports that the four tyres of the car belonging to the representative of the Joe Gazama Chambers were deflated.
NAN noted that the DPO Ayobami Surajudeen who was invited to maintain order, invited both parties for a dialogue with the Commissioner of Police on Friday.