August 21st 2017

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COTU fears increased NSSF contribution could be used for 2017 campaigns

“The suspension of these sections has also affected fund course structure and management and it is now evidence that the salutary two per cent capping of administrative course to the fund value may not be achieved,” said Mr Ndambuki.

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comWednesday, 07 Sep 2016 14:28 EAT

The national labour centre COTU, National Pension Scheme and Labour Ministry have differed over decision to withdraw ongoing court cases with fears the increased workers’ contribution could be used to fund the 2017 campaigns. Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) deputy secretary general Benson Okwaro accuses the state of arm-twisting them to withdraw the case to give way to implementation of new rates which will result to amassing of more funds to states’ campaign pool.

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) revised its rates in 2013 to have members contribute more, with both workers and their employers contributing six percent of employees’ gross salaries to the pension fund. But this was contested by COTU and Federation of Kenya Employers who successfully pushed the court to put it on hold. Workers are currently paying Sh200 to NSSF.

Mr Okwaro said the tactic state in employing was borrowed from former regimes and will not work this time round. He said cartels are waiting for case to be withdrawn to start controlling the funds. NSSF chairman of the board of trustees Gideon Ndambuki while speaking in Mombasa on Monday, pleaded with Cotu to withdraw the case to unlock the stalemate. Mr Ndambuki said the court’s move to suspend some section of the NSSF Act hampered their operation.

The court suspended sections 18 on pension scheme, 19 on registration of employer and employee, 20 on collection of new contribution rates and section 71 on regulation of funds. “The suspension of these sections has also affected fund course structure and management and it is now evidence that the salutary two per cent capping of administrative course to the fund value may not be achieved,” said Mr Ndambuki. He said facts on the matter will be presented and pleaded with Cotu to unlock the court case stalemate to allow funds to move to the next level.

But Mr Okwaro listed raft of demands before withdrawing the case including a representation to the NSSF Board. Though COTU has two representatives, Mr Okwaro called for a must inclusion of one of its members and that of FKE. As it stands, two-thirds of Board membership, in exclusion of the two representatives from trade unions, constitutes a quorum.

Mr Okwaro said there have been heated meetings and Cotu’s two representatives have on numerous occasions stormed out and key decision were made without their participation. Other demands were managing trustees in acting position be confirmed or other appointed on permanent basis. “We cannot sign an agreement with someone who is in acting capacity. What if they get fired?” he posed. Mr Okwaro called for adequate consultation as part of raft demands before the cases are withdrawn.

Labour PS Khadijah Kassanchoon promised that the stalemate will be unlocked soon judging by the body language of the two institutions. “So far some of the things have been agreed upon,” she said.

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