Workers Hit Street Over Tier 2 Pension

Labour union workers hit the street of Accra
THE AGITATED 12 labour unions protesting against government’s decision to handle their Tier 2 pension contributions yesterday embarked on a massive demonstration to press home their demand.

The demonstration, which was staged in both Accra and Kumasi, was to compel government to release their Tier 2 pension contributions into their registered schemes.

Hundreds of workers who attended the demonstration in Accra were in red and black attire, wielding placards which read: ‘We need our pension now or we will stop working’, ‘Stop corruption and all will be well’, ‘Our employers are cheating us’, ‘Where is our money’, ‘The pensions act must be allowed to work’, and ‘Allow the law to work’.

Others also read: ‘Stop doing ‘kpakpakpa’ with our pensions’, ‘Mahama, do you want to eat with your hands and feet at the same time’, ‘Allow our private schemes to operate’, ‘Who is behind Pension Trust’ and ‘Allow the law to work’.

The 12 labour groups recently embarked on an indefinite strike to draw government’s attention to the non-payment of their Tier 2 pension funds.

They are opposed to government’s decision to choose a private trustee, Pensions Alliance Trust, to oversee the management of their Tier 2 pension contributions.

The workers and government have resorted to the law courts to settle the matter as subsequent negotiations between the two ended in a deadlock.

Some of the workers who spoke to the media alleged that government has misused the funds already accrued, hence the refusal to handover the management of the pension.

They promised to use all legal means possible to ensure that government releases the money to the scheme they want.

Peter Lumor, National Chairman, Teachers and Education Workers Union (TEWU), told DAILY GUIDE that ‘Government is using propaganda to deceive the public that we (unions) want to collect the pension money and manage it ourselves which is not true.

‘We are not going to manage the money ourselves. There are schemes that have been set up and there are trustees licensed by the National Pensions Regulatory Authority who are going to invest and manage the money.’

A section of the protesting workers
He said, ‘We don’t know why government is refusing to release the money to us. We don’t know what government’s interest is by keeping the money.’

Mr Lumor assured that there would be more demonstrations if government refuses to release the money, stating that ‘today’s demonstration is the beginning of more demonstrations to hit government.’

The Vice President of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Angel Kabonu, said they would resist any attempt by government to take the money that is due them.

‘We will use any means necessary; we will struggle day in and day out; marshal all forces at our disposal and use all legitimate means to fight government. At the end of the day, we know we will win this fight,’ he said.

Abu Kuntilo, Coordinator of the Unions, said the demonstration was part of their strategy to get their concerns addressed, stating, ‘We have embarked on this demonstration to inform the general public about the action between us and government.

‘Government can go ahead and say anything; we have established a roadmap which we are implementing gradually which this demonstration is part of it.’

Gov’t Blasts Workers
Meanwhile, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu, described the demonstration as ‘needless’.

In an interview with Citi FM, he expressed surprise that although the case was in court, ‘they have chosen to demonstrate across the country.

‘That is needless.  The demonstration will not change the position of government,’ he said.
 By Cephas Larbi

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