The federal government has said that workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) would be disengaged at the conclusion of the company's privatisation process, the minister of state for power, Darius Ishaku, reveals.
The employees, he said, would have to sign new contracts with the new investors when they take over the successor companies.
Ishaku, who stated this in Abuja yesterday during a meeting with youths over the new electricity tariff, said those who are found with the right skills would be re-absorbed into the new system by the private owners.
The minister stated that the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) has been repositioned to provide relevant training for workers in the sector to make them more relevant in the future, noting that more Nigerians would also be employed to work with the investors post-privatisation. The privatisation process is expected to be completed by October this year.
To ensure a smooth transition, the federal government has set aside the sum of N200 billion to settle all labour-related issues including liabilities and severance packages.
The minister said the workers' salaries have been increased by 50 per cent in order to raise their price value before the coming of the private investors with a view to setting the pace for future negotiations.
"The current PHCN workers will be disengaged... We have effected a 50 per cent increment in the salary of our electricity workers and have since started paying. The idea is for their salaries and emoluments to be scaled up to give those of them who are highly skilled to have upper hands when the new owners come. We do not want our workers to be undervalued," Ishaku said.
The minister expressed optimism that the new owners would engage the workers on a higher skills basis. They were being trained by NAPTIN, he noted, to make them highly relevant in the new scheme of things.
Minister of power Prof. Barth Nnaji, for his part, said that the biometric verification of the workers had been concluded and that a committee had been set up to vet the report of the verification and go after those who had, over the years, promoted the existence of ghost workers in the system.
Nnaji said operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Security (SSS) have been incorporated into the committee to assist in vetting the report and identifying the culprits. He disclosed that many ghost workers were identified in the verification exercise.
He further called for greater understanding on the new electricity tariff regime, saying that the move would make electricity available to Nigerians.
The new tariff, the minister said, does not necessarily imply a tariff increase. "In the tariff order coming into effect from June 1, 2012, the urban poor and rural dwellers called R1 will not have to pay higher.
In fact, they will be paying lesser in one or two areas. Instead of N7 per kilowatt hour, they will be paying N4. They will no longer pay meter maintenance charge. The R1 customers are those who consume 50kilowatt hour or less," Nnaji said.
The R2 customers, who belong to the middle class, he said, will be paying only an additional 11 per cent increase and not 88 per cent as has been reported.