The Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) has announced that it has paid over N36 billion to workers in the electricity sector since the privatisation process commenced.
This is even as the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has warned that it would not hesitate to resume its suspended strike, if the Federal Government reneges on the agreement signed with the workers.
Director-general of the BPE, Mr. Alex Okoh, at a meeting with the union, confirmed that over N36 billion has been paid and the verification of 600 staff processed and forwarded to office of the Account-General of the Federation (OAGF) for payment, while 2,000 could not be verified.
This was in reaction to NUEE’s demand for payment of over 2,000 disengaged staff of the defunct PHCN.
The meeting became necessary following industrial action in the power sector at the expiration of a 21-day ultimatum issued by the union.
In attendance at the meeting held in Abuja were the minister of state (power), Mr. Goddy Jedy Agba, director overseeing the office of the permanent secretary (power), Engr.Abdu Ahmed, director, human resource management (power), Mrs. Adesida D.T, chief of staff to the minister, chairman (NERC), Prof.James Momoh, director-general, Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Okoh, managing director, MELMCO, Mr. Adebayo Fagbemi, director-general, NBET, Mrs, Merlly Amobi, as well as special assistants to the ministers.
Others were representative of the ministry of labour and employment, Mr. H.A. Musa, as well as Ahmed Sekure, labour desk officer, power, managing director, TCN, Usman Mohammed, and the leadership of NUEE, Igwebike Dominic, Omoreh Chris N.W., Sikamta Mshelinga, Maria Ene Ekoja, and others.
On the issue of 16 months underpayment of severance benefit as well as the 7.5 per cent pension component, the BPE boss acknowledged that this was pending and promised to obtain the condition of service from the GenCos and DisCos within a week and hand them over to the Minister of State for Power.
As part of the resolutions, the BPE also promised to intervene on the non-remittance of contributory pension to PFAs, especially for Kaduna, Kano and Jos.
He, however, explained that the pre-retirement training was processed, but there was no cash backing to carry out the training.
On 10 per cent equity, the BPE boss explained that the percentage share has not been worked out because the 40 per cent is yet to be determined, and it was then that staff could access their share.
The resolution noted further, “the Minister of State for Power however promised to visit the GenCOs in company of the managing director of NELMCO, along with some officials of the union, to see things for himself and resolve the issue of unionisation in the GenCos and the non-remittance of the deducted check-off dues.
“On the issue of harassment by security personnel, the honourable minister of state (power) informed us that he was not aware of the incident, apologized and promised that such an unfortunate incident would not occur again.”
The minister of state (power) also advised that DisCos and Gencos should be encouraged to renegotiate with their respective bankers on terms of payment of loans so as to allow sufficient funds for staff salaries.
The stakeholders equally resolved that DisCos/GenCos be advised to negotiate with their bankers to ensure sufficient cash flow to enable them pay salaries.
Other resolutions at the meeting included: “that the DisCos could be advised to stop casualization of workers; and
“That all staff who participated in the industrial action would not be victimised in anyway.”
Meanwhile, the general secretary of NUEE, Joe Ajaero, has noted that the workers would keep their part of the bargain to ensure harmonious industrial relations in the sector.
He also warned that the union would not hesitate to call out its members and resume the suspended industrial action without notice, should the government and other parties fail to fulfil their parts of the bargain.