Twelve years after privatisation, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has said that its compulsory contribution to the Treasury Single Account (TSA) has prevented it from paying the N1.8 billion severance packages to 982 former staff of the now privatised Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL).
This is just as the Bureau is appealing for understanding as it works assiduously to resolve the issue especially as there are feelers that the workers laid off in 2010 may cause industrial unrest as they have been denied their severance for 12 years.
SAHCOL was handed over to the Sifax Group in December 2009, after its successful privatisation by the Federal Government.
After much uproar and negotiations, the BPE had agreed with SAHCOL unions on November 2, 2018 but has said that all appeals to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed, to ensure the release of the funds proved abortive.
NigerianFLIGHTDECK obtained a letter from the BPE signed by the Director for Post Transaction Management, Mr. Taibudeen Oduniyi, dated October 11, 2022 with the reference number: BPE/PTM/NUATE/11/2022/M10.01, addressed to the General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Ocheme Aba, stating that its contribution to the TSA stopped it from fulfilling the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached with the former workers in 2018.
According to the letter the Bureau regretted that the Federal Government’s policy, which compelled all agencies, departments and ministries to contribute to the TSA was “disabling” it from implementing the agreement.
According to the letter, the BPE had written Ahmed for fund to settle the retrenched workers, but without success.
The letter reads in part: “In the light of the foregoing, it has become expedient to update you on our modest efforts to bridge communication gap from the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) we signed with you on November 2, 2018 to the setting up of the Negotiating Committee and our Director-General‘s willingness to offer to pay the redundancy as opposed to the stand of the Chairman of SAHCOL. It is evident that if we have the resources, this would have been a forgone issue.
“Also recall that at the inception of this administration in 2015, all funds of government agencies and MDAs were swept into the Treasury Single Account (TSA), thus disabling us financially. Given this scenario, our only option was to write to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning for funds to settle you, which we did via our memo on May 19, 2022.
“We have employed several persons to assist and our last being a visit to one of the Directors with the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation on Friday 7, 2022. We are not relenting and any support from your end will be highly appreciated.”
Former workers of the company are expressing their anger over the delay in their payment stressing that this has affected them moving forward as they have been laid off since 2010.
A former worker said: “We have waited enough. We were laid off since 2010. We have taken all the steps to ensure that we were paid as agreed, but unfortunately, we are yet to be paid.
“The BPE in 2018, after agreeing that we were entitled to the several packages, promised to pay us, but four years after this, we are yet to get anything from the bureau. They are even asking us to assist them in getting the money out of the Ministry of Finance. How can we do that when we are not the government?”