15 January 2014

Nigeria: Electricity Workers Suspend Planned Strike for Two Weeks

Electricity workers under the aegis of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) have suspended their planned strike over unpaid benefits and entitlements after the privatisation of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) for two weeks.

This was one of the outcomes of a resolution reached at the end of a meeting held at the instance of the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, with officials of the Ministry of Power, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) NUEE and Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) in Abuja on Monday.

After the meeting which lasted till yesterday morning, it was also agreed that all bonafide staff of the PHCN would be paid their severance benefits before the end of January 2014.

"Admitted casuals to be paid on or before end of March, progressive payments to be tracked. All pensions should be processed and payments should be effected accordingly," it read.

The resolution which was signed by the executive officers of the unions, representative of the Director General of BPE, Mrs. Omojola Martina, and Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Labour and Power added that the 7.5 per cent employer pension contribution of July, 2012 to October 31, 2013, will be paid by the federal government.

"Payment of pension deductions from November 1, 2013, to date will be paid by the new operators into workers RSA Accounts...BPE and FMP to fast track approval and payment of death benefits to beneficiaries within one month. The complaint of victimisation of labour leaders to be handled by the Federal Ministry of Power and BPE in accordance with extant regulations within January," it read.

"Workers who are being owed salary arrears and have not been severed will be paid by the federal government and should stay in position until they are paid. The Ministry of Power and BPE would fund a workshop to be organised by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity in first week of February, for the new investors, unions and other stakeholders in the industry. The allegation of nonpayment of entitlement to staff covering July 2012 should be referred back to the implementation committee for conclusion within January 2014.

"On the staff re-engagement letters reported to be withheld by some new investors, it was agreed that the BPE should submit comprehensive list of re-engaged staff to the technical sub-committee for confirmation.

"The implementation committee should set up a verification subcommittee to establish payment of certain entitlements listed in the agreement of October 2013 and identify those stations that have paid and those that have not paid. BPE should submit the list of the 483 uncleared RSA holders to the technical subcommittee for rectification. On Equity share holding, federal government will make 10 per cent offer of first refusal to the work force in the power sector in line with extant agreement, policies and market regulations. Any reduction in or stoppage of salaries and wages of staff by the new investors is a violation of section 21 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005 and should be reversed by defaulting operators, where it occurs."

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