Former Tanzanian state workers face pension delays

Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA)  Secretary General Nicholas Mgaya

Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) Secretary General Nicholas Mgaya

The Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) says all state workers who retired have neither received their commuted pension gratuity nor monthly payments since they left their jobs in July last year.

The civil servants are pensioned by the Public Service Pensions Fund but the union claims all the former workers have been subjected to ‘economic shake-ups’ owing to government’s delay to settle their debts.

At least Tzsh11trn has not been paid to the Public Service Pensions Fund by the government and figures show that more than 11,000 retirees are entitled to terminal benefits.

According to the Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania Nicholas Mgaya, the scheme needs at least Tzsh278bn to pay all retirees unfortunately the government just released Tzsh35bn last month.

“Trade Union Congress of Tanzania is in critical situation. The Fund has failed to pay its members and the government has to make urgency to help the Fund,” he told reporters in Dar es Salaam last week citing part of the debt as included in the Tzsh534bn loan injected to finance the construction of Dodoma University (UDOM).

Mgaya noted that the government had not settled its Tzsh6trn promise after introducing the non-contributory pension scheme in 1999. “It was also agreed the government will be paying 15 per cent while the members shall contribute 5 percent to make the 20 percent. Unluckily the required 15 percent has not been paid,” he claimed.

Social Security Regulatory Authority (SSRA) admitted government delays in the repayment of the debt but noted that the government has started settling the debt.

Irene Isaka, the Social Security Regulatory Authority Director General told Afrika Reporter on phone that as part of clearing the debt, the government is in reconciliation talks with the Public Service Pensions Fund to settle the matter.

She said that the government has already signed a Tzsh2.6trn non-cash bond in a bid to repay the pending debt owed to the social scheme.Isaka also pointed out that an evaluation is being conducted to establish the health status of the Fund.

Meanwhile TUCTA has commended the ongoing crackdown against illegal foreign workers but called for more action to be taken those working in industrial, household and hospitality sectors.

Mgaya said the decision by the Home Affairs ministry to concentrate on the education sector would not address the problem of illegal foreign workers who are still living and working in the country contrary to the governing laws.

The Union also expressed concern over the employment agents who fail to abide by the law. “There are firms that have been heavily exploiting workers. They don’t register employees with the pension funds yet they don’t pay the government the needed tax and the workers don’t get contracts,” he said.