Over 2,000 workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) on Monday embarked on protest over the delay in payment of severance benefits.
The workers, under the aegis of the National Union of Electrical Employees (NUEE), staged the protest at the Eko and Ikeja Electricity Distribution Companies and threatened to commence indefinite strike on 1 November.
“The reports reaching the union is that the majority of banks cannot make payments in keeping with the schedule sent to them by the Federal Government.
“This means that government does not have money,” Mr Adeleke Ibrahim, the chairman of the Lagos Chapter of NUEE who led the protest, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The union official said that if the workers’ entitlements were not paid by the end of October, the entire workforce of PHCN in all the 36 states would embark on an indefinite strike.
Ibrahim said that the union was not against privatisation of the company, but added that “government should pay all workers’ entitlements before the new owners will commence operation”.
He appealed to government to ensure that all the agreements it signed with the workers were met to avert the strike.
Ibrahim said that some of the issues in contention included non-payment of retirement savings to pension fund administrators and non-remittance of dues of two per cent deducted from workers’ salaries to the unions.
Others are non-payment of benefits of retirees who disengaged in 2011 and non-regularisation of service of some casual workers.
NAN reports that the workers, who carried placards with different inscriptions, locked the gates to the two offices and prevented people from entering the premises.