The Federal Government Thursday appealed to the unions in the power sector to exercise patience as all issues surrounding the N384 billion earlier announced for the payment of the entitlements of workers in the sector would be reconciled.
This came as leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) warned that any attempt to hand over the successor companies of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to private sector investors will be resisted until government fully implement the agreement reached with the unions.
Orgainsed labour in the sector last week handed down March 31 deadline to government to resolve all labour issues failing which it threatened to mobilise workers for a nationwide industrial action.
However, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, has appealed to the unions to restraint from any action that will jeopardise the success recorded so far in the power sector reforms, noting that issues surrounding the said amount will be put to rest in no due time.
Wogu, who spoke on the occasion of the second Triennial National Delegates Conference of the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) in Calabar, Cross River State disclosed that a meeting of all stakeholders in the sector has been scheduled for Monday next week as part of efforts to harmonise all the grey areas regarding the computation of entitlements of PHCN workers.
He commended the leaders of the unions for the maturity they had exhibited so far while the negotiations lasted adding that social dialogue remains the only way to resolving industrial dispute.
He said the essence of the federal government setting up an implementation committee headed by the minister of power was to resolve all the labour issues ahead of the privatisation of the sector.
"We appeal to the unions to be patient with government as we have come a long way. I can assure you that all issues surrounding the N384 billion will be resolved as government is committed to the promotion of social dialogue, industrial peace and harmony."
Speaking earlier, President General of TUC, Comrade Peter Esele, expressed disappointment over the N384 billion announced by government stating that the amount was not a reflection of the agreement signed with government last December.
He urged government to source for fund and settle the entitlements of workers warning that any attempt to hand over PHCN facilities to successor companies without implementing the agreement reached with the unions will be resisted by labour.
Esele, who maintained that the success of the reforms in the sector is hinged on the resolution of all labour issues, added that government has no excuse whatsoever not to deliver steady power supply to Nigerians.
"The N384 billion recently announced by government is not what we signed. What we signed is above N500 billion and government must look for the money to pay them. None of those plants will be given to any successor company except every kobo signed between Federal Government, TUC, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the unions in the sector is implemented. We will ensure that we keep our own part of the bargain and government must honour its own part. The success of the reform is determined by the resolution of all labour issues," Esele said.