From ISAAC ANUMIHE, Abuja
Federal Government of Nigeria has so far cleared over 20,304 former staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) for payment of severance benefits amounting to N119.085 billion.
This confirms assurances by Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo at the weekend that as soon as the names of the workers are cleared, Federal Government would commence payment of their severance benefits.
According to sources, the payment, which commenced on August 1, 2013 is being made by Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
The source also said that about 3,938 names of staff of Generation Companies (GENCOs) and PHCN Headquarters were forwarded to the Office of Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) for payment of a total of N34.585 billion.
According to sources, as at August 5, 2013, another 16,366 staff of Distribution Companies (DISCOs) were cleared by the auditors and are ready for onward transmission to the OAGF for payment of about N84.5 billion.
The source expressed hope that more staff would be cleared by the auditors before the end of this week as it was a continuous process. Nebo had at the weekend promised that all the labour issues regarding severance benefits for PHCN workers had been concluded and that what remained was to cross the Ts and dot the Is.
The issue of PHCN workers’ severance benefit had been very controversial since the unbundling of PHCN into 17 firms. While the union wants the Federal Government to honour a recommendation that workers’ payoff should be on current salary structure, the workers said electricity workers’ severance package should be based on their 2012 salary scale.
According to them, it would be wrong to base the severance package of the PHCN workers on the 2010 salary structure. Following the impasse, the Federal Government had set up an Implementation Committee on March 19 to recommend appropriate terminal benefits of the workers.
“It will be wrong to use the 2010 salary structure, which was operational then to pay off any worker in 2013. Since the committee, I believe, has been able to determine the correct number of PHCN workers affected by the mass retrenchment, the staff must get their dues. The measures to be adopted to pay the workers must not deviate from what is proper,” the workers, said. However, a truce was recently reached between the electricity workers union with PHCN management on severance package.