Workers Protest As Soldiers Take Over PHCN Headquarters
Armed soldiers, on Friday took over the premises of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), disrupting the activities of the workers.
This resulted in a protest by the workers, who questioned the motive behind the deployment of the soldiers to the place.
The reason for the military take over could not be ascertained as of the time of this report.
Reacting to the development, the chairman of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Comrade Wisdom Nwachukwu, said that “the protest steemed from the fact that we came to work this morning and discovered that our offices have been invaded by military personnel.”
He said that the soldiers numbering about 68, prevented the workers from entering their offices.
He added, “We don’t know their intention. We don’t know what they are planning, whether they want to sell power holding to some individuals.”
He asked the Federal Government to remove the soldiers, saying the union would resist every attempt at taking the workers out of the building and selling the organisation to private individuals without due process.
Also reacting, some workers said that if the government wanted to sell PHCN, they should pay them all their entitlements.
In the meantime, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has appealed to the Federal Government to withdraw soldiers from the facilities of PHCN, and resume dialogue with NUEE towards resolving the stalemate between them.
In a statement by its President, Mr. Abdulwahed Omar, the NLC pointed out that the chief negotiator, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu, had yet to submit his team’s report for implementation, and that that implies the possibility of further dialogue with the workers.
Sunmonu is the pioneer President of the NLC and the Secretary of the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU).
“Rather than resort to high-handed methods, we believe that there is still room for further dialogue to break the logjam,” the statement said.
Noting that the current stalemate, among other issues, has been engendered by disagreement over pension and gratuity, the NLC pointed out that the Pension Act in no way abrogated gratuity.
“Of much concern is that the workers are being denied this benefit when they have collectively contributed to it over the years,” it said.
“It is expected that total deductions from the workers should be paid to them,” the statements added.
Meanwhile, following the sale of PHCN to private investors in the country, district offices of the company have been locked in Kwara State.
Staff members of the company seen at Baboko and Challenge district stations were seen on Friday morning milling around the office.
Some of the staff members, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they had not received any letter to any effect, adding that they heard media report and decided to close the offices.
They also debunked speculations that all workers of the electricity company had been laid off by the new owners, as some of them even said the letters they received recently was about promotional interview scheduled for Monday.Share