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Hundreds of workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria employed as casual and contract employees for more than 10 years are groaning under poor salaries and excruciating conditions of service.

In the spirit of Workers Day, the affected people have appealed to Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to consider their plight and rescue them from 'internal slavery and crass exploitation.'

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that more than 50 per cent of the PHCN workers in the Ibadan Distribution Zone alone, were engaged as contract or casual workers between 2000 and last year.

Although the trend cuts across the country, sources within the organisation put the figure of the affected people at more than 500 in Monatan, Molete, Dugbe and Ojoo districts under the Ibadan zone.

In the contract workers' category are graduates of universities, polytechnics and school certificate holders, who are placed on salaries of between N7,000 and N10,000.

The casual workers, majority of whom were seconded to PHCN in 2000 through the Poverty Alleviation Programmes, are being paid N3,000, which is N500 short of the amount they were paid under the PAP.

In 2003, when the PAP was scrapped by the Federal Government, it was gathered that the casual workers in PHCN were re-absorbed into the system on compassionate grounds by districts' business managers.

Findings by our correspondent revealed that casual and contract workers in PHCN were employed as linesmen, drivers, gardeners, cleaners and marketers, while they could also be found in distribution and administration departments.

In rare cases, some of the first degree holders in the system are paid maximum of N12,000, depending on the benevolence of the business managers.

Due to the agitations of the workers against the meagre amount they were being paid, the Federal Government was said to have directed the organisation to regularise their employment status in 2005.

One of the sources said, 'Our hope of securing full employment was raised when the management conducted nationwide interviews in compliance with the directive.

'But we discovered that the few people that were employed were those that were highly connected to the management and other influential people outside the organisation.'

According to him, 'The district later employed some of us and placed us on N7,000 monthly salary. The annoying aspect of it is that from primary school certificate holders to university graduates, we were all placed on the same salary.

'The internal slavery and crass exploitation within the organisation is more than what outsiders can imagine. You do not even collect more than N6, 500 monthly in the actual sense, because banks will deduct N500 charges.'