“The so-called investors gave the impression that they have all it takes to fix things, but we now discovered it is a deceit”.
Hundreds of pensioners and disengaged staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, in the South-West on Monday embarked on a peaceful protest in Abeokuta over the alleged non-payment of their pensions and gratuities totalling about N100 billion.
The protesters, under the banner of National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, carried placards with various inscriptions such as ‘Pay our Senior Citizens’, ‘Haba!’ ‘Retirement entitlement last paid in 2009’, ‘Don’t put excuses of non-performances on electricity workers’, ‘IBEDC management means no well for electricity consumers in the zone’.
The protesters were, however, accosted by security operatives including police officers who restricted the protest to the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, IBDC’s premises located along Moshood Abiola Way, Abeokuta.
The Chairman of the Union, Adegbenro Adesanya, accused the Federal Government of illegally disengaging some staff, having failed to adhere to the agreement it reached with the union that there will be a six-month probation period between staff and investors.
He said members of the NUEE were sent packing before the take off of the six months agreement, lamenting that majority of those affected were the most valuable hands, the reason the new management is yet to get it right since the takeover.
Similarly, the Organising Secretary, Peter Adeoye, said many of the staff were laid off illegally and asked those retained to not get too comfortable as information available to the union suggests that some of them will be sacked.
Mr. Adeoye said the retained staff should join in the agitation rights.
The Zonal Officer of the union, Babatunde Giwa, while addressing the protesters, accused the new management of the electricity company of deriving pleasure in slavery and cheap labour; the reason, he says, for the staff strength reduction.
He lamented that in spite of the fact that the investors are just shareholders in the company, with Federal Government still controlling 49 per cent, the new management engaged in casual labour which is against the labour law.
The South-West Organising Secretary, Richard Kedee, talking tough, declared that the union will not compromise members’ rights, and would ensure that all entitlements were paid. He also accused the Federal Government of behaving illegally.
“Our protest is to sensitize Nigerians on the deceit of Federal Government that they have concluded payment of all disengaged staff and pensioners”.
“The so-called investors gave the impression that they have all it takes to fix things, but we now discovered it is a deceit. The investors have no capacity to move the sector forward. There is even an attempt to destroy the union, Labour law approves unionism, and we stand by that. Our demand is also that those disengaged illegally must be recalled,” Mr. Kedee said.