From Freedom Ajala, Abakaliki
The leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (JPSNC), Ebonyi state chapter, is set for battle with the Ebonyi State Government following the introduction of a new pension bill recently signed into law by Governor Dave Umahi.
The new pension law in the state, which was signed by Governor Umahi Tuesday, is aimed at establishing a uniform set of rules, regulations and standard in the administration and payment of retirement benefits to Civil and Public Servants in the State.
But addressing journalists in Abakaliki Thursday, the Chairman of NLC Comrade Ikechukwu Nwafor, TUC’s Comrade Michael Nwonu and JPSNC’s Comrade Patrick Ekwe, said the bill did not meet the provisions of the pension reform Act 2014 as amended.
The organized labour regretted that workers’ salaries were being deducted before signing the bill into law without first creating Retirement Savings Accounts for the workers where funds deducted from their salaries for the contributory pension scheme would be paid into.
Consequently, they accused the State government of violating the provisions of the pension reform act by contributing 5% for the workers pension and the workers contributing 8% and called on the government to go back to the drawing board.
The organized labour said, “We wish to appreciate the move to commence contributory pension scheme in Ebonyi state by the state government for civil and public servants.
“The government has decided to go straight to deducting workers salaries without following the due process which is also against the financial rules of this country. We are calling on the state government to immediately hold on while the whole processes is completed and the bill be amended for government to contribute 10% while workers contribute 8%. This is the position of workers of Ebonyi state.
“But we discovered that the following steps that are supposed to be taken were not taken. Ordinarily, signing the law is just the first step but then, the contents of the law have to be made known to those whom the law is made for because we seriously observed that the law contains that the State Government is going to contribute 5% while workers of Ebonyi state will be contributing 8% which is against the Pension Reform Act and we say no to it and we can never agree to that and we request that the state government should go back and amend that law to be in line with the Pension Reform Act of 2014”, they maintained.
Also in his reaction, the TUC Chairman, Mr. Nwaonu while calling on the State Government to follow the due process before signing the bill into law decried that “The processes of implementing contributory pension scheme were not followed at all. The issue of deduction of workers salaries in respect to the pension scheme which they first started before passing the law is even the 8th step. There are so many other steps that should be followed before deducting the workers’ salaries”.
He contended that the steps of generating code of MDAs to PENCOM are such that the state would need to appoint Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs).
“The PFAs will go further to register workers and give them their Account Numbers before deductions are made. These accounts must be ready before the deductions so that immediately you deduct, you pay in the money into the Retirement Savings Accounts(RSA) of the workers. But in this case, all these things were not done,” the organized labour stated.