The workers of the Shiroro Hydroelectricity Dam in Niger have begun an indefinite strike in protest of an alleged Federal Government directive compelling them to join the contributory pension scheme.
The workers converged at the dam’s security gate on Thursday carrying placards.
Some of the placards read: “Don’t short change us, pay us our full benefit, Bart Nnaji, Tell Nigerians the truth about PHCN, Minister of Power, Treat us with Dignity”.
The workers called for the continued management of their pension scheme under the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) superannuation fund.
They said they preferred the old system as against the contributory pension scheme being supervised by the National Pension Commission.
In his address to the workers, the Chairman of the Shiroro chapter of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Mohammed Nagya, said the Federal Government should pay them all their entitlements before the final privatisation of the power company.
Mr. Nagya said the 2010 Reviewed Condition of Service of the PHCN employees, indicates that all severance benefits are to be managed by PHCN superannuation fund and not through PENCOM contributory scheme.
He said that the law establishing PENCOM was enacted in 2004, while the condition of service of PCHN employees was reviewed in 2010.
The chairman said this situation has made their condition of service superior to the PENCOM Act.
“They are asking us to go by force; we are ready to go if our entitlement is paid. Government should honour the agreement to pay their full benefit.
“You cannot send people away by force. It’s not done anywhere. We do not have guns. We only want the world to know that we are being intimidated and cheated,” Nagya said.
The chairman said the union has asked all its members to down tools with the exception of those in switch control room and turbine operators.
In spite of the strike, the station still supplies power to the national grid and the operators are still working.
However, other workers stayed away from their offices in compliance with the union’s stay at home directive.
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