…we won’t enact any law against the peoples wish – Speaker
…the scheme is suicidal – Labour
By Anthony Uwadiegwu
Organised labour in Cross River state on Tuesday stormed the state House of Assembly in protest against the proposed Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) Bill, 2023 rejecting its planned passage into law by the Assembly.
Labour described the CPS Bill as draconian, stressing that it would have negative impact on the workforce as it was not a worker friendly scheme.
Addressing the Speaker of the CRSHA, Hon. Elvert Ayambem and other members of House who gave them audience shortly after the close of plenary on Tuesday, Organised Labour said it viewed the bill as a suicidal policy that would cause more harm than good.
The Chairman of Trade Union Congress TUC, in Cross River, Comr. Monday Ogbodum who read a jointly signed statement by all the Unions including NLC, TUC, JNC stated that they heard by grapevine that the Bill despite all odds and rejection by workers was now going through its final stage of passage by the House.
“Civil servants in Cross River are satisfied with the current mechanism in place for payment of pensions. Recall that we had earlier during a Public Hearing on the July, 27, 2023 said No to the Bill (Contributory Pension Scheme) due to its failure in other states of the federation as well as the anguish those under it are going through.
“We hear from grapevine that despite workers rejection of same Bill, it was currently going through a final stage of passage by the House.
“We want to remind the Speaker and Members of the House that they were elected by the masses and whatever the masses reject should also be rejected by them.
“This scheme was viewed by Labour in the state as suicidal policy by government and so we vehemently reject it because we know it will ultimately fail as it has failed in almost all the 36 states that implemented the pilot programme of Contributory Pension Scheme.
“We call on Mr Speaker to note that by the provisions of Section 5 (2) of the Labour Act, an employer can only deduct from a worker’s wages to pay any contribution or fund after the consent of such worker has been sort or gotten.
“But if it is passed by the House then it should be on record that the CRSHA has invited industrial unrest in the state,” they stated.
Responding, Speaker of CRSHA, Hon. Elvert Ayambem said their grievances have been well noted, adding that no law that will be against the interest of the people will be enacted.
According to him, their message will be taken to the governor who is the head of the executive arm and there would be deeper deliberations on the matter with a view to making him (Governor) see reasons why the bill should not be passed into law.
His words: “We are here to legislate on issues that will give comfort to the citizens of the state and not otherwise, we are here to deliberate on issues that will give you the enabling working environment that you desire and not to strangulate you.
“I won’t stand here and say that if you are not comfortable with the CPS Bill, it should be forced on you, I think that the governor we have is a listening governor, it behooves on me to sit and speak with him and tell him the need to stand down the bill,” he assured.