By Ukpono Ukpong
The President, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Comrade Etim Tommy, has said that for productivity to strive in the civil service, the Federal Government must restore the payment of gratuity to workers at the point of retirement.
Comrade Tommy told Daily Times during an interview in Abuja that there’s no provision in the Pension Act as amended 2014, that says that management should not pay gratuity to workers at the point of retirement.
“When you look at Pension Act as amended 2014, you will find out that there’s no provision that has stopped payment of gratuity to Nigerian workers.
That is one area, I believe that we can jointly alongside with other comrades in the struggle see how we can approach it with the Government for the Act to be revisited.
“There’s no provision in that Act that says that management should not pay gratuity. Contributory Pension Scheme is your money and government is only paying a certain percentage and you are also paying a percentage, so that does not stop the government from saying thank you.
“We are not running a different economy, the workers in the Central Bank of Nigeria and other agencies, they are earning far.
Look at for example, a worker that has gotten to a directorate cadre, when you leave the Central Bank of Nigeria, you are collecting nothing less than N130 million just to say thank you and then your pension keeps coming.
So why is it different in the public sector? I can challenge anyone to show me where in the pension Act where it’s said that gratuity should not be paid. We can’t continue to about the issue of contributory Pension and you think, that has eroded the gratuity? No Sir.
“We need to go back and look at the interpretation of some of those provisions for us to be in line with the reality on ground. That is why, when a worker is retired, he becomes a beggar. What on earth will keep a retiree for three to four years before receiving pension?” He queried.
Comrade Tommy noted that if a worker, at the point of retirement, receives his or her gratuity, it would help to live longer as majority of them live on drugs.
He said that gratuity payment will encourage the workers to put in their best, knowing very well that before they get the pension, they have something to hold on to especially being that most retirees rely on drugs for survival.
“Contributory Pension Scheme is your money and government is only paying a certain percentage and you are also paying a percentage, so that does not stop the government from saying thank you.
“There are some drugs they said are generic which National Insurance cannot cater for, so if you have gratuity, you can plan how to get your drugs to sustain you to wait for your pension.
Now that pension only comes when you are three, four years after retirement, we demand that gratuity should return and be paid as and when due.”
Speaking on his basic plans for the Association as he comes on board, Comrade Etim Timmy said “We will also look the Secretariat to see that our Secretariat in Abuja which we started long ago is completed so that it will also be a revenue yielding measure for the Association.
Very important aspect of my program is the capacity building within and outside this country, because a well informed unionist is a well informed society.
Looking at the dynamics, the developmental issues in the labour world now is driven by knowledge, so when you have a well built capacity of the practitioners of the industrial relations then I think, we will be good with it.
We’ll look at the issue of training and retraining to build the capacity including the secretarial staff.”