The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, said on Thursday in Abuja that the congress would not approve the borrowing of money from pension funds.
Wabba expressed the disapproval at the 47th National Executive Council meeting of the Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria.
State governors had approached pension funds administrators to borrow at least N17 trillion from the funds to settle outstanding wage bills in the wake of the current recession.
Wabba said: “The pension money is not for borrowing.
“The pension money is the retirement savings of workers.
“We do not want the money borrowed.
“It is money in savings accounts for workers’ retirement.
“We are not going to agree to loan the pension money.
“We will actually ensure to create an avenue so that those who have not been contributing can contribute.
“In short, as I speak to you, less than 5 per cent of the states have keyed into the contributory pensions scheme.
“Yet they want to borrow the pension money.
“Most of the monies in the pension retirement savings accounts are for Federal Government and private sector workers,
“So why would they want to borrow from where they have not sowed?
“It is not free money.”
Wabba also warned that any day the pension money was given out as loans, Nigerian workers would take to the streets.
He added that the pension money was hard-earned money of workers, contributed by workers so that when they retire, they would have some savings.
He said: “So, they have no stake, both the principal and the capital belong to workers.
“We must not allow our pension retirements savings standards to be lower than what obtains in other parts of the world.”
Wabba also observed that 18 states of the federation were yet to implement the N30,000 National Minimum Wage approved by the Federal Government on April 18, 2019.
He said the delay by state governments to implement the approved national minimum wage was discouraging.
He said: “As at today, more than 18 states are yet to implement the minimum wage and these are the same people saying that they want to now borrow from our pension money.”
The NLC president commended the Federal Government for reconstituting the Pension Commission Board.
In his remarks, Biobelemoye Josiah, MHWUN National President, said the meeting was to analyse overall progress, failure and constraints of the union.
Josiah said there was the need for restructuring that should be clearly defined and aligned from development point of view for the benefit of the country.
He added that the restructuring should focus on stimulating economic activities to improve the wellbeing of Nigerians.
He said it should be about how to make every part of the country to get involved in productive economic activities and generate wealth for the people.
“It is all about equity and justice and equitable dealing in marshalling out the dividends of democracy,” he stressed.
Josiah also appealed to the Federal Government to enrich industrial relations practice through the inter-play of the relationship between management, government and workers’ unions.