Kaduna — Workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) under the aegis of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) yesterday accused PHCN management of sabotaging the superannuation fund of over N331billion which was to be used for payment of staff retirement entitlements.
NUEE North-West zone's coordinator Comrade Joseph Ishaya disclosed this at a prayer session organized by the workers at the Doka Business Unit in Kaduna.
He said, "we have been receiving only 75% of our salaries since we started working with the company and the remaining 25% was to go to the superannuation, so what we are saying know is pay us our terminal benefits because we don't know Pension Commission (PENCOM) and we did not sign any agreement with Nigeria Electricity Power Authority (NEPA) now PHCN."
He also said:"We signed a pensionable agreement and what the 2004 pension reform act says on privatization is that workers' welfare and benefits must be negotiated to a conclusion before privatization and it's like government is trying to sweep that under the carpet, so our fear is that we don't know PENCOM and if government must go ahead with the privatization we have a condition of service signed by our representatives and government and what it says is that when you are liquidating there are agreements you have to reach by paying the workers off so that the company can do what they want to do."
Responding to what he described as media propaganda by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), he said, "the bureau claimed that even when they are paying the staff salary, they did not set aside any 25% which shows the level of ignorance which Barth Nnaji and the BPE have in civil service rules of engagement."
"Right from employment as a staff of PHCN, 25% is set aside for your pension, gratuity and welfare where 10% is for pension, 10% for gratuity and 5% for welfare because what we are receiving is a consolidated salary of 75% and it was on the basis of that that all this while those that have been retiring government does not have to bring in money to pay for the pension rather it is being picked from our superannuation fund.
"As at 2010, the superannuation fund has been vandalized to the tune of over N331 billion, so what we are saying now is refund that money and we will use that money to settle the terminal benefits of our members and whoever wants to remain with the new company, according to new agreement with the new company can continue to work for them," Comrade Ishaya stated.
He urged the government to go into a private partnership, instead of outright privatization of PHCN, saying there should be private participation in the sector.