By Henry Uche

Worried by the socio-economic challenges faced by average Nigerian employee in the public sector of the country, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Lagos State Council is calling on the government to review the Pension Reform Act, PRA, of 2014 as amended, saying that the Act did not abrogate the payment of gratuity to its employees.

The Chairman of the Lagos state Council of the Congress, Comrade Gbenga Ekundayo, argued that the  ‘take-home’ of Nigeria workers does not agree with the current economic realities.

“The Pension Reform Act, PRA, of 2014 as amended, did not abrogate the payment of gratuity. Prior to the Pension Reform Act of 2014 (amended), when a public servant retires, he is entitled to gratuity and pension, that was under the Defined Benefit Scheme, DBS. Now, with the coming of the Contributory Pension Scheme, CPS, the government no longer pay gratuity to retired public servants. If you go through the PRA, it does not stop payment of gratuity.

“Unfortunately, when you look at Political and Judicial Officers Act 2008, they are entitled to gratuity. Somebody who serves at the House of Assembly, National Assembly, serves as a Minister, Commissioner, Governor or President and even Permanent Secretary is entitled to receive gratuity.

Imagine that someone who served for four years is entitled to gratuity and someone who served for 35 years is not. This is obviously a misnomer.

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“If you go to Section 173 subsection 2 of the 1999 constitution, public servants are entitled to gratuity. For not adhering to it, it can be described as a constitutional violation. What joy could be possibly derived from depriving committed workers of such entitlements”

Disheartening, Ekundayo bemoaned that since then, the government does not pay gratuity, he called on the state government to commence the payment of gratuity to its employees and look into the general welfare of the Workers.

“We commend the Lagos government for good example of prompt payment of workers’ salaries and incremental arrears as promised by the governor. Keeping his words made us  look forward to wonderful partnership in your second coming. We expect other employers of labour to emulate such attributes.

“However, we appeal that certain agencies of the government such as Lagos State Safety Commission be fully empowered to perform some of its statutory responsibilities as it affects workers in both the formal and informal sector, especially in the factories, who are daily exposed to hazards from avaricious employers of labour who care less about workers’ safety”

He called on the Inspectorate Department of the Ministry of labour to collaborate with the Safety Commission to help reduce to the barest minimum if not totally eradicated, the issues of occupational hazards and ensure health safety in the workplace across Lagos.

“As a result of hyper inflation, the undue pains suffered by workers across Nigeria and Lagos particularly not only slowed down productivity in various work places, but it has affected the mental, emotional and psychological well-being of the workers. Thus, public sector employer (government) must look into the PFA 2014 (as amended) and pay every workers under their watch gratuity and ensure that other welfare packages are delivered to them as and when due. A worker is worthy of his wages and no one should deny another his or her due in any guise” he asseverated.