Paul Osuyi, Asaba
The Delta State chapters of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Wednesday thanked the state government for approving the harmonised rights of pensioners in the state.
Over the years retirees in the state have been agitating for the harmonisation of their pensions to reflect the N18,000 minimum wage and not the N7,500 that it was being calculated.
The pensioners heaved a sigh of relief on Tuesday when the State Executive Council at its meeting presided over by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in Asaba approved the recommendations of the harmonisation committee.
Speaking on behalf of workers, the state chairman of NLC, Goodluck Oforbruku, expressed gratitude to the governor for the approval, disclosing that workers have decided to induct Okowa into its Hall of Fame.
Oforbruku explained the implication of the harmonised rights of pensioners, saying “In other words, it means that the Delta State Government will use the N18,000 minimum wage to calculate the pension entitlement of retirees in the state.
“This means that those who retired as far back as 2011, instead of the N7,500 minimum wage that was used to calculate their entitlement, the government has approved that the N18,000 minimum wage be used.”
He said the approval has been labour’s struggle over the years which led to the setting up of the harmonisation committee by the governor, adding that workers and pensioners had at a point lost faith in the committee because it was taking too long to conclude its work.
Oforbruku stated that what the committee has done was to clean up the system, disclosing that the exercise saved the government the sum of N95 billion as a result of overestimation.
According to him, “the Contributory Pension Law in the state says that when an officer retires, he should go home with at least 50 per cent of his last salary, but, when the N7,500 minimum wage was being used, officers were going home with 15 to 30 per cent of their last salary.
“So, the government has approved that we implement what is in the law and it will cost the state government a whopping N37 billion from March 2011 to December 2019.
“In addition since the implementation of the contributory pension started in the state in 2007, N32 billion has been contributed to the scheme so far by the state government with the present administration contributing N22 billion of that amount in four years.
“The government under Okowa has answered our prayers as labour and the implementation that is to take effect immediately will meet the provisions of the law.
“In other words, it means that workers can retire and live a good life and not die of sickness, poverty and hunger any longer.
“In view of what the governor has done for workers in the state, the workers have decided to induct him into workers hall of fame on the 1st of May, 2020 which happens to be Workers Day.”