It has emerged that the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government has not paid the mandatory 5% Tier Two Monthly deductions of public service workers since the scheme commenced in April 2016.
According to the workers, the government was hampering the smooth operation of the 2nd Tier Occupational Pension Schemes in the public sector which has put the pensions of workers in danger.
The workers have therefore vowed to start a strike action from November 15 if the NDC government fails to comply with the statutory obligation by paying the money into the custodian banks that were nominated by the government even against the wish of the workers.
At the behest of President John Mahama, the leadership of the various workers group met the Attorney General and the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations in May 2015 to settle the case out-of-court which was initiated by the government against the workers over the Tier 2 scheme.
In what turned out to be consent judgement, the government, as the employer, agreed to ensure that effective April 1, 2016 it would transfer the 5% Tier 2 monthly deductions made by the Controller and Accountant General and pay directly to the pension custodian banks duly appointed by the government itself.
It was also agreed that the National Pension Regulatory Authority (NPRA) shall ensure that the transfer of funds currently held in the Temporary Pension Fund Account (TPFA) at the Bank of Ghana to custodian banks of the four schemes was completed by July 2, 2016.
The government again promised to reimburse the defendant workers “reasonable expenses incurred in setting up their trusts and schemes, as well as any reasonable legal fees incurred in the course of the litigation of the suit.”
Public Service Workers
However, the forum, made up of the Health Service Workers Union (HSWU), Ghana Registered Nurses Association (GRNA), Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Ghana Physician Assistants Association (GPAA), Ghana Hospital and Pharmacists Association (GHOSPA), Ghana Association of Certified Registered Anesthetists (GACRA), Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union (TEWU) of TUC, National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) and the Civil and Local Government Staff Association, Ghana (CLOGSAG), became incensed by the latest development and issued the strike notice at a news conference in Accra yesterday.
Isaac Bampoe-Addo, Executive Secretary of CLOGSAG, who doubles as chairman of the forum for the workers said, “The delay in transferring the 5% Tier 2 monthly deductions to custodian banks nominated by the government itself is worrying.”
He said the leadership of the workers had made every effort to get the audited TPFA but the government has simply denied them, saying “As we speak we don’t know how much has accrued. The deafening silence on the part of the government concerning the transfer of funds is clearly in contravention of the court judgement.”
Mr. Bampoe-Addo said that the government with the promulgation of the National Pensions (Amendment) Act, 2014 (Act 883) postponed the implementation of the 2nd Tier Occupational Pension Scheme for five years and that cut out those who were 55 years as at January 1, 2015, but insisted that the workers will not accept any further amendment.
“The fact still remains that for those who fall under the National Pensions Act, 2008 (Act 766), cumulative contributions from January 1, 2010 have not been transferred to the custodian banks of licensed schemes of the forum.”
He said the delay in the transfer of the funds to the various schemes for almost 7 years is going to affect adversely the level of lump sum or gratuity a retired officer is likely to receive in the 2nd Tier.
The workers rubbished the recent directive by Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrissu to the Controller and Accountant General to release the fund to various custodian banks, saying that it was only the President or the Minister of Finance, who had that power over the Controller.
“It is a ploy. When they got intelligence that we were going to expose them, they quickly got the minister to issue the directive to the controller,” the workers, who wore red bands, insisted.