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FG agrees to pay PHCN workers' full severance package

By The Citizen
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The Federal Government has finally agreed to settle the severance entitlements of workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, bringing to an end about 16 months of negotiations between both parties.

The government on Tuesday inaugurated an implementation committee for the settlement of the workers' benefits, stressing that it had sufficient funds to offset their severance package.

Labour unions in the power sector had last week doubted the government's ability to pay the workers' entitlements. They had shunned a meeting with the government because of the inauguration of multiple committees.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony on Tuesday in Abuja, the Minister of State for Power, Mrs. Zainab Kuchi, said the government, labour and other stakeholders engaged in the process of negotiations with a view to ensuring that decisions taken were bought into by all.

She said, 'It was that detailed process that resulted in the agreement signed on Tuesday, December 11, 2012. That agreement outlined, in broad terms, the benefits and entitlements to be paid to the employees.

'It is in recognition of this fact that the need arose to form a committee that brings together all stakeholders to discuss in a frank and transparent manner various issues related to the fair and proper resolution of human resource oriented matters.'

She said the committee would enable full participation by all players as to how the various issues such as determination of procedures for the settlement of all due benefits to all concerned, taking into cognizance existing laws.

Kuchi stated that the committee was expected to complete its assignment within three weeks, adding that it would work with the offices of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Auditor-General of the Federation.

'The Federal Government, in line with its previous commitments, has sufficient funds to make full and complete payments to all that are due. Let none; therefore, entertain any fear that government will relent in its commitments to the affected employees,' she said.

The committee members are the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power, representatives of the Ministry of Finance and Labour, Bureau of Public Enterprise, Accountant-General of the Federation, Auditor-General of the Federation, National Pension Commission, PHCN, National Union of Electricity Employees, Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company, and Alexandra Forbes Consulting.

Earlier in his remarks, the Minister of Labour, Mr. Emeka Wogu, said, 'Today, every agreement has been settled. The presence of senior government representatives here underscores the importance, which government attaches to this particular event and I want to assure workers that they will not be short-changed in anyway.'

Responding on behalf of the unions, the President-General, SSAEAC, Mr. Bede Okpara, said, 'Please, we don't want to fight again to see this promises work. We will give you all the cooperation you need based on the presentation you have made, but if government plans to short-change us, we will resist it with everything in us.'