By Victor Ahiuma-Young

Organised Labour has demanded for the upward review of the retirement age of all public servants  from 60 to 65 years.

Under the aegis of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and its Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, counterparts, Labour insist on full payment of gratuities to workers contending that the 2014 Pension Reform Act, PRA, did not remove the payment of gratuity to workers.

In a joint address at the May Day, Ayuba Wabba and Quadri Olaleye, President of NLC and TUC respectively,  also commended Lagos, Borno, Jigawa, Kebbi, Oyo, Kano, and Yobe state governments for leading in gratuity payment.

Among others, they said “While thanking President Muhammadu Buhari for the recent increase of the retirement age of teachers from 60 to 65 years, we also call on government for an upward review of the retirement age and years of service in the entire Public Service. Certainly, what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.

“We urge governments at all levels to respect the provisions of the 2014 Pension Reform Act which did not remove the payment of gratuity to workers. We urge the Federal and some State governments that had ceased paying gratuity to clear their arrears. It is gratifying that many private sector employers continue to pay gratuity. We commend Lagos, Borno, Jigawa, Kebbi, Oyo, Kano, and Yobe state governments for leading in gratuity payment. Gratuity for retiring officers should be restored in public service to compensate for workers’ service years. We also call for immediate payment of a new minimum pension to Nigeria’s retirees whose retirement benefits are subject to such adjustment

“The plight of pensioners remains a major source of concern not only to organised labour, but all persons of conscience and goodwill. As at today, most pensioners are going through unimaginable trauma and harrowing experiences. They have been short-changed, abused and subjected to all manner of humiliation and indignities with some dying in line-ups in so-called unending biometrics and verification exercises. Most pensioners are not only denied their minimum pension, but are also subjected to irregular pension payment. Even when such payments are paid to pensioners on Defined Benefit Scheme, they hardly reflect actual retirement earnings and benefits of our retirees.

“Recently, the debate to use part of pension funds for investments have been making the rounds especially given Nigeria’s huge foreign debts. Perhaps, prodded by moneybags in the business community, members of the National Assembly had mooted the idea for investments of pension funds in infrastructural development. The argument that these funds running into trillions of naira are “idle” amidst the urgent need to grow the economy should be taken with a pinch of salt.

“While it is true that the sorry state of infrastructure in the country is a sore point in our national life and the situation in part is responsible for our shrinking economy, these are not sufficient reasons to invest pension funds without recourse to due process as prescribed in the Pension Act 2014 as amended. Lest we forget, the reasons for migration from the Defined Benefit System (DBS) to Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) was due to government’s inability to pay pension to retired workers as and when due. This sad situation arose from non-funding of the pension or diversion of such funds or outright embezzlement.

“The leadership of Organized Labour demands respect of the provisions of the Pension Act as amended which stipulate that only a percentage of Pension Savings should be invested in assured risks. We make this appeal especially to National Pension Commission, PenCom, and the National Assembly. Never again would we surrender the life savings of our retirees to opportunists in government and their predator cousins in capitalist circles.”

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