The workers of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) who were retrenched in 1991 said they would not receive benefits based on the 1991 retrenchment guidelines.
Mr Andrew Okon, the leader of the affected workers, said that their benefits were not in compliance with a court judgement on the matter.
Okon claimed that the judgement said that workers, who served for five years, should be paid their gratuity in full, while those who served more than 10 years should get pension and redundancy benefits.
He told NAN that the workers had earlier petitioned the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Senate and the Presidency when NPA insisted on using the 1991 retrenchment guidelines for payment.
According to him, the workers have waited for 21 years to be paid their benefits.
“We have suffered and about 500 out of 3, 000 of us have died due to frustration.
“Some of us have been ejected from their homes, while many cannot afford their children’s school fees
“We were paid one month in lieu of notice, instead of three months when we were retrenched,” he said.
Michael Ajayi, NPA General Manager (Public Relations), said that NPA would pay the workers on the 1991 retrenchment guidelines.
According to Ajayi, NPA is a law-abiding public institution bound by law and will never disobey the judgment of a court.
“This matter has been on for a very long time, leading to litigations and counter litigations. The problem is that of ignorance or the refusal to understand the rules.
“Their retrenchment in 1991 arose from a public policy which focused on the restructuring of public parastatal agencies,” he said.
Ajayi said that the fundamental issue at stake was the settlement of disengagement benefits based on the 1991 and 1992 circulars.
“The 1991 circular, which was an amendment of the 1990 Pensions Act, stated that the calculation and payment of retirement benefits should be based on the total annual emolument of an officer.
“In 1991, the annual emolument of an officer on Grade level (GL) 01 to 09 was based on his annual terminal basic salary; annual transport allowance and annual rent subsidy.
“For officers on GL 10 to 15, the annual emolument was based on his annual terminal basic salary, annual transport allowance, annual rent subsidy and annual meal subsidy,” he said.
The NPA spokesman said that he wondered why the workers wanted their benefits to be calculated based on the1992 circular for retrenched workers, whereas they were retrenched in May, 1991.
He explained that an officer on GL 10 in 1991 earned N1, 149 monthly, which amounted to N13, 798 yearly.
“If that officer was disengaged in 1991 that translated to N275,960 in 20 years, leaving out all the increments in salary and advances.
“The same goes for a GL 01 officer, who earned N506 monthly and which amounted to N6, 078 annually. If the officer was disengaged in 1991, the officer would have received N21, 560 in 20 years.
“So how will somebody be dreaming of getting millions of naira. The laid rules should be followed,” Ajayi said.
He said that it was wrong for the workers to insist on being paid based on a circular that was not in existence at the time they were retrenched,
Ajayi pleaded with the workers to collect their benefits and not breach the peace as they had threatened.