The National Council on Privatisation (NCP) has so far paid entitlement of N373.2 billion to 98 per cent of the workforce of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
The NCP, which made this disclosure on Wednesday, noted the commendable progress achieved by the implementation committee on the payment of the severance, pension and gratuity of the workers and retirees of PHCN and directed that the implementation committee should handover to BPE all information and documents concerning outstanding active staff and pensioners verifications and payments.
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The council also directed that the process of verification and payment of all the outstanding cases should continue until the final resolution of the exercise.
Briefing members of Council, the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) Benjamin Dikki told members at its meeting that only 1,169 of the 47,913 workers of the defunct PHCN were yet to be paid.
Out of the outstanding number, the DG said, included workers that had exited before severance payment; those being processed for validation; and those yet to be identified by PHCN as bonafide workers adding that the working group was looking into these cases to arrive at a final closure.
The Council added that 2,791 retired staff of the PHCN representing 65 per cent of the retirees had been paid N16,414,926,902.38 with an outstanding number of 1,516 retirees who have so far failed to turn up for verification or were still undergoing further verification or their next of kin have not been able to produce the necessary court papers.
It would be recalled that an Implementation Committee was constituted in March 2013, with the mandate to implement the agreement reached with the Power Sector Labour Unions in December 2012. The objective was to facilitate the payment of the entitlements of all workers of PHCN and ensure that there are no encumberances to the handover of the successor companies to the respective investors.
The payment streams were categorized into severance payments to former active staff of PHCN; and the payment to PHCN Retirees/Death Benefits, which PHCN couldn’t pay before hand over of the successor companies (SCs) to the new investors.
This assignment was done in two phases. The first phase of the task, which recorded payment to 98 per cent of the staff, was done from July 2013 to the first week of March 2015. The second phase of the assignment, which started from February 2015 to date, was conducted to address non-payment to few active staff and majority of retirees and the next-of-kin of deceased staff.
BPE had drawn the attention of NCP to the fact that despite the substantial progress made in the settlement of the terminal benefits of PHCN workers which culminated in the relative industrial harmony experienced in the sector today, there had been some challenges the BPE was striving to surmount.
The Privatrisation Agency listed the challenges to include non-appearance of Active Staff/Retirees and Next-of-kin of deceased PHCN employees for verification exercises carried out by the Committee several times and despite massive publicity for the assignment; the logistical challenge of reaching out to some of these beneficiaries who have been confirmed ill/terminally- ill and domiciled in some remote parts of the country; and the means of reaching out to PHCN staff/ Retirees in Diaspora for verification.
NCP also noted the case of some PHCN workers in the diaspora, which the Committee couldn’t reach in the course of the assignment. Consequently, Council has directed that those staff based abroad should be encouraged to come to Nigeria for their verifications and payments.