This is calling on the government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in Osun State to immediately commence the payment of outstanding pension and pension arrears of retirees in the state. Currently, some sections of the retirees have been processed without being paid a dime, while several others such as retirees from primary schools have not even been processed at all, thus putting their fate in the balance. Many of these retirees who have retired for more than six months now are struggling to survive, especially as the harsh economic situations, generated by the anti-poor, neo-liberal policies of governments at all levels, have continued to bite harder. If government is campaigning for virtuous behavior among its workforce, it should ensure that their lives after service are not made miserable through willful neglect by political officers.
Many of these pensioners were forced to retire through a dubious policy introduced in 2009 by the defunct government of Olagunsoye Oyinlola, but implemented by the current government since 2010. This policy compelled all workers who have used close to thirty years in service to compulsorily retire if they are to be enrolled in the government’s pension scheme; otherwise they are condemned to the exploitative contributory pension scheme that deduct from workers’ salaries but only ensure meager pensions that are fractions of what government will pay. Worse still, based on the instability of the financial and business markets coupled with the profit-driven agenda of private pension mortgage and banking organizations, the pensions from contributory system are not secured.
Consequently, many workers were forced to retire in order to get a government secured pension. Unfortunately, more than six months after, pensions are still unpaid. This is simply unfair, especially when viewed against the background of the enormous amount committed to salaries, allowances and other official perks of political officers. Of course, the governor, during the last May Day claimed the government had commenced the payment of pensions; it seems this assertion is mere political statement. It is only virtuous for the governor to translate his statement to reality by paying the retirees promptly. Many of them still have dependants, including children who are still schooling.
Labour unions, not only in Osun State, but across the country should take proactive measures to fight for these retirees.
They are part of the working class, which labour movement is morally and historically bound to defend. Pension union should also stop playing the ostrich by using the excuse that these retirees have not been integrated into the payroll as alibi for not defending them. This is simply shallow. Interestingly, labour leaders are members of a pension committee setup by the government some months ago, yet, many retirees are still suffering. Workers have an inalienable right to living pension without any deduction from their salaries. The contributory pension system is an attempt to generate profit for private big business while excusing government from its statutory responsibility, all at the expense of workers and retirees.
Kola Ibrahim (08059399178, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Osun State Secretary, Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR)
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters