Workers’ unions in Seychelles ask Pension Fund to reconsider increase in contributions
Workers’ unions in Seychelles have asked the Pension Fund to reconsider its plan to increase the personal contributions of workers and employers as of April 1.
The Seychelles Labour Union, Seychelles Federation of Workers Union and United Workers Seychelles held a joint press conference to state their position on the reform on Friday.
Currently, Seychellois employees contribute 3 percent of their salaries to the Seychelles Pension Fund (SPF) and their employers pay the same amount which amounts to 6 percent. In the proposed increase, both employees and employers will contribute 5 percent each, bringing the total contribution for one worker to 10 percent.
“With the devaluation of the currency and the general high cost of living in the country, the SPF should postpone their pension reforms and have frank and productive talks with the unions to do what is best for the Seychellois workers,” said Leader of the Seychelles Labour Union (SLU) Ralph Volcere.
SPF announced plans to increase the mandatory monthly contribution from April 1 to sustain the retired fund payment amid concerns about its solvency given the island nation’s rise in life expectancy.
The leader of the Seychelles Labour Union said that the SPF did not have sufficient funds to maintain its pension payments in the long term because it had made a series of bad investments over the years. The unions have asked that an investigation be held into the investments SPF has made where dividends have not been paid.
The unions also oppose the new Performance-Based Bonus scheme announced by the cabinet of ministers last year.
Volcere said this will place the workers at a disadvantage and instead suggested that the government pay a salary cheque for four weeks of work every 28 days. This he said will make provisions for a 13th-month salary without leaving employers at a disadvantage.
Antoine Robinson, secretary general of the Seychelles Federation Workers Union said that “the introduction of the 13th-month salary a few years back is not something that happened by accident, it was done to encourage workers to remain in a job for at least a year. It was also introduced to cater for certain eventualities in the economy such as devaluation and costs of living.”
The unions said that while they are open to frank and productive discussions with the authorities should the workers’ needs not be met, there are a series of measures that they may embark on.
“The last thing we want to do is disrupt the workplace, but we are prepared to hold demonstrations if the need arises,” said Volcere.
He added that they may also ask their members to refuse to pay the increased sum and even take the SPF to court.