by Adeniyi Abdul
Workers at the Abuja headquarters of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria on Wednesday alleged that their workplace had been taken over by soldiers and that they were being coerced into signing documents.
Speaking to journalists yesterday, the North-Central Zonal Secretary for the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Comrade Temple Iworima, stated that the conflict was due to the federal government directive for the deduction of 7.5 per cent from their salaries to be remitted to Retirement Savings Accounts (RSA).
“We kicked against this because we have not agreed with the government to deduct any money from anybody,” he said. “We have not opened RSAs, so based on that they have not paid us salary for last month.
“This morning (Wednesday) we came and we saw a battalion of soldiers inside and outside the building and learnt that the permanent secretary, Mrs. Dere Awosika, came around 7 this morning with Ghana-must-go. Whether she was bringing severance package for people or something, we did not agree to that and she cannot be forcing people at gunpoint to sign and collect their severance package.” he said.
Mbang Etietie, Vice President of the Union for the states of Lagos and Ogun, told journalists that workers from across the country were invited to Abuja for a promotion exercise where it turned out the government was trying to force them to sign severance documents.
“What I have been told is that the woman brought these soldiers to compel people to sign. But the PENCOM Act says that you will decide where you want your money to go to, so they can’t deduct it without our consent, but they want to make us consent compulsorily at gunpoint. They want me to consent to deduction from my salary to a PSA at gunpoint and it is not done anywhere,” he said.
“Look at the condition we find ourselves. We can’t do anything there. They just want to frustrate the situation. Union people without arms, how would we create trouble that would warrant a garrison of soldiers to be brought into this premises?” he asked.