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Workers say no to premium hike, yes to bigger pension

The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) on Wednesday called on officials of the Social Security System (SSS) to set aside plans to increase workers’ contributions and demanded for an increase in retirees’ pensions.

KMU led a group of protesters who stormed the SSS offices along East Avenue in Quezon City to express their indignation over the plan of the state pension fund to increase members’ premium.

The workers slammed the SSS leadership for planning to increase workers’ premium from 10.4 percent to 11 percent.  This means an increase in employers’ contribution from 7.1 percent to 7.37 percent and corresponding increase in employees’ contribution from 3.3 percent to 3.63 percent.

According to Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general, such an increase in SSS premium will hurt the workers more than the employers, considering that instead of a wage increase, the two-tier system implemented by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) led to a 30-percent cut on workers’ wage.

“The SSS, according to its own reports, is in a healthy state. It can afford to increase retirees’ pensions without increasing workers’ premium,” Soluta said.

“Because of unabated price hikes, workers’ wages can hardly meet their families’ needs. An increase in workers’ contributions will be an added burden to workers and their families,” he said.

“SSS pensions, like workers’ wages, have been eroded by the skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services. It is only just that the pensions of those who spent their lives working be increased,” he added.

KMU cited the following data: (1) Net revenue increased by 40.8 percent or P23 billion in 2010, (2) Workers’ contributions reached a record high of P79 billion in 2010, (3) The benefits paid by SSS to members increased by 7 percent in 2010, and (4) Unremitted employer contributions as of December 2010 was at P8.5 million.

“What is the Aquino government planning to do with the workers’ money? SSS is doing fine but it still wants workers, who are overworked yet underpaid, to increase contributions,” Soluta said.

KMU, meanwhile, chided the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop) for making a complete turnaround from its previous position on the issue. Ecop now agrees with the SSS leadership’s proposal to increase employers’ and employees’ contributions.

According to Soluta, unlike workers, employers can surely afford to increase their contribution to the SSS. “Wages after all have been pressed down in the past years while profits continue to soar,” Soluta said.

“Whatever happened to Ecop’s bases for refusing the increase? That the life of SSS and reserve fund is secure until 2039?

“That there is no basis or urgency for the increase? Many capitalists get away with failing to pay contributions to the SSS, while workers are forced to always pay their premiums,” he added.

 

 

 

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