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PANEL DISCOVERS 17,000 GHOST WORKERS AT PHCN

Ghost workers are amongst the most employed in Nigeria

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Panel finds 17,000 ghost workers in PHCN

A WORKER verification exercise carried out by the Federal Government in Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) has shown that 17,000 “fake employees” are on the payroll of the firm.

It was also discovered that PHCN has 6,000 casual workers.

The biometric project was undertaken by Creative HR, which in its report, said there was massive fraud in both the number and engagement of the workers, which the Labour unions have allegedly defended.

A Presidency official told The Guardian at the weekend that the exercise had formally ended and the result very shocking. The official said figures collated by Creative HR during the exercise, which started on October 19, 2011, indicate that instead of the 40,000-47,000 work-force being brandished for PHCN, only a little over 30,000 personnel showed up for screening.

Also, 4,000 “contract workers” showed up for verification whereas 10,000 had been presented as waiting to be converted to regular employees.

Before the latest discovery, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), which conducted a similar biometric exercise, had alerted of the existence of ghost workers in PHCN.

In a memorandum on items to be submitted by government to its chief negotiator with Labour, the spokesman for the government’s team, Dr. Timiebi Koripamo-Agary, had stressed that 4,106 casual workers had been verified as at February 18, 2012. .

On the regularisation of casual workers, the document, obtained by The Guardian yesterday, noted: “The regularisation process for this category of members of staff is on-going and is expected to be concluded shortly. However, as at February 18, 2012, 4,106 casual workers have been verified and will be subsequently regularised. However, it should be noted that the regularisation would be based on the certificates presented at point of entry for appointment as a casual. For casual workers whose appointments have been regularised, their pension and gratuity benefits shall be negotiated.”

Another government official confirmed to The Guardian that the process had ended and that the figure of those confirmed had not changed significantly.

The government had agreed to the regularisation of all casual workers hired before December 31, 2009 and subject to biometric verification. This is in addition to the implementation of a 50 per cent salary increase for all employees effective June 1, 2012.

The government and the National Union of Electricity Employees have been on the war-path over the biometric verification of electricity workers in the country. PHCN workers opposed it as condition for payment of their salaries.

But the government insisted that PHCN workers, who refused to participate in the exercise, would be denied their salaries and the 50 per cent pay rise. .

Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, had in defence of the initiative said: “I am a minister and I was biometrically verified. Every government worker needs the verification to get paid. So, we really have to ask why some people do not want to subject themselves to this verification?”

In a statement issued last November on the issue, BPE spokesman, Mr. Chukwuma Nwokoh, stressed that a number of ghost workers had already been uncovered through the scheme.

Nwokoh said: “In the wake of the suspension of the exercise, BPE members of staff, who were at the various locations, discovered ghost workers on the payroll of PHCN and the unions were obviously concerned about the development, which might explain why they forcibly ejected the consultants.”

The workers’ union’s General Secretary, Joe Ajaero, in the petition, said workers did not at any time reach agreement that there would be biometric for serving members of PHCN.

He said: “We are in receipt of a provocative memo sent to Chief Executive Officers of PHCN by Mr. H. Labo, citing biometric exercise for members of staff as a pre-condition for payment of the negotiated 50 per cent salary increase.

“We are not surprised at this satanic verse. This confirms our earlier fears that some people within the system were bent on importing crisis into PHCN, where none exists.

Via Guardian

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