THE Joint Union of Plateau Tertiary Institutions(JUPTI) has taken its protest to the State House of Assembly to further register their rejection of an executive bill on Contributory Pension Scheme being considered by the legislators.
The workers’ contention is that the bill gives more protection to government at the expense of workers.The Union members were from the 6 state tertiary institutions led by their Chairman. Comr.Paul Dakogol recently marched to the Plateau State House of Assembly Complex in Jos the state capital chanting solidarity songs holding placards with different inscriptions such as “Speaker, do not drag Plateau workers into PENCOM.” “Contributory pension is full of manipulation.” House of Assembly please protect our existing gratuity scheme,” “Exempt staff of tertiary institutions from the proposed new pension scheme.” “We are saying no to the new pension bill,” among others.
Comr. Dakogol said, “The CPS bill itself gives more protection to government at the expensed of workers for instance where there is case of default in remittance by the employer, the complain is forwarded to the Governor, this leaves the worker at the mercy of government. The salaries of Plateau State workers especially that of tertiary institutions and the local government do not even meet the minimum bench mark, so we will not risk further deductions by any form of contributory pension.”
He also stated that, “The House should investigate why organizations like the Army, Police and other security agencies and Ebony State among others have to opt out of the scheme? this scheme based on the facts available to us will promote poverty on retirement instead of comfort hence is not a good policy for staff already in the system.”
According to the Chairman, “The funding of accrued liabilities from the present define scheme is another big challenges that workers will really suffer from, considering the financial indebtedness of the state. For instance, how will government meet up with our accrued liabilities for the tertiary institutions which we have work out to stand at about N15 billion in event of transition to the new scheme? This is a big burden when we put all other workers under the state government into consideration,” he stated.
Asking further question that, “Why does the present defined pension scheme appears not to be meeting the needs of retirees? The reason is simply lack of funding by successive government, the law for funding of the pension boards are there but government deliberately starves these boards fund leading us to the present situation.
“There is no guarantee that if the scheme is implemented in Plateau state, present and successive government will be faithful in its remittance considering the treasury single account(TSA) experience which is still fresh in our minds where the policy makers say one thing but do a different thing thereby turning our institutions into an eye sore.
“We call on this 8th Assembly to investigate the TSA system because it has become a cancaworm in the survival of tertiary institutions in the state.”
Comr. Paul said the technicalities on the implementation of the contributory pension scheme are quite complex for the understanding of an average Plateau worker, adding that the executive bill has no details on how the final benefits are to be arrived at and called for the exemption of the entire Tertiary Institutions in the state from the bill laying before the state house of assembly and sustained the present define benefit by strengthening the present pension and gratuity through some legislative framework among others.
However, the union called on the house to intervene for the released of accreditation funds by the state ministry of finance to safe the institutions’ academic programs from eminent withdrawal by their various regulatory bodies for accreditation which is long overdue despite approval by Governor Simon Lalong last year.
They expressed concerned over what they tag as “Secret employment” ongoing at the state college of education Gindiri, calling on the house to looked into it and ensure that various vacancies are been advertised for the general public to apply for those jobs opportunities and recruited individuals must faced the screening panels that looked into credibilities of persons than godfatherism.
The Plateau state contributory pension scheme bill which is an executive bill presented by Governor Simon Lalong among its objectives is to enable all workers received their retirement benefits as at when due; ensure transparency and efficient management of pension funds; empower the workers; control over Retirement Savings Account (RSA); promote savings culture; establish strong regulatory and supervisory frameworks through investment, accountability and security of funds but the tertiary union are saying it has negative effect on them.
The Honourable Speaker, Rt. Hon. Peter Azi responding to the agnry union members said, the 8th Assembly is peoples’ friendly Assembly and only passes bills that are acceptable by the people. “We the 8th Assembly have never pass any bill that is against our people, we only passed bills that are acceptable by our people.
“ We are in a rescue mission, and we really have to rescue this situation, we don’t joke with our civil servants because Plateau state is a civil servants’ state, we may not be the direct beneficiaries but may be beneficiaries of it indirectly because we have our people in the tertiary institutions too.
“Those who brought the bill did not have bad intention for her workers, they feel it will bring development, but I assure you people that we will look into it with fatherly consideration, I must commend you people for taking the part of peace in resolving this issue than embarking on strike,” Azi stated.