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Severance package: PHCN workers disagree with FG's consultant

By The Citizen
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Despite hiring a foreign consultant, Alexandra Forbes, to determine the final entitlements of employees of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, the Federal Government has failed to reach an amicable solution with labour unions in the power sector.

Our correspondent gathered on Tuesday that though the meeting between the government and labour unions with the consultant recorded some success, the workers were, however, not comfortable with the calculations of the foreign firm.

The President General, Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, Mr. Bede Opara, told our correspondent that the union would consult with its technical team before adopting some of the calculations of the foreign firm.

He said, 'On the Alexandra Forbes meeting with us, you know we have discussed and have agreed on some basic issues with the government, and those basic issues need to be translated into absolute figures. So, the government involved Alexandra Forbes as experts in determining actuarial values of our entitlements, including pension and others.

'We have to raise our own technical team to talk with them, for we have been able to fish out some loopholes in some areas that are not realistic, especially in the areas of inflation rate and other factors. The meeting was successful anyway, but there are some areas that there were no concrete agreements that definitely we will come back to.'

Asked to disclose some of the issues, Opara said, 'We have issues with repatriation allowance and we are still talking about issues that have to do with pension. We are looking at the factors that need to be involved in the calculation of the repatriation fee, and then, we have made them to know that it is based on pension allowances.

'We found out that their component for pension allowances is different from our own, and we are saying that the component should be based on our condition of service and not based on the condition spelt out in the Pension Reform Act of 2004.'

On labour issues, he said the government had agreed in principles but there was no implementation, adding, 'We have stated that every kobo that should be paid to workers must be paid before we will allow them to take over the company.'

Opara said this was because the workers had encountered similar problems in the past, stressing that each time they negotiated anything with the government, implementation had always been the problem.

'So, we don't want a situation whereby the government will come and take over, and then, payment will become an issue. We want our money in our hands before we will allow the takeover,' he said.

The meeting had in attendance representatives of the Nigerian Union of Electricity Employees, SSAEAC, PHCN management, as well as officials of the Bureau of Public Enterprise and the team from Alexandra Forbes.