By Alois Vinga
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has criticised government over a surge in pension defaults by employers, saying the lax in implementing pro-workers’ rights policies is fuelling reluctance by most companies.
The remarks come against a background where the Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) Wednesday published a list of Top 50 pension contribution defaulters, with National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), Harare City Council and Zimbabwe Electricity and Transmission Distribution Company (ZETDC) making it into the top three.
The insurance regulator noted with concern, the continued failure by some sponsoring employers to remit pension contributions to their respective pension funds, to the detriment of pension scheme members, who end up receiving reduced or no benefits, when they become due.
“Employers that deduct pension contributions, are required, in terms of section 2(a) of Statutory Instrument 61 of 2014, to pay contributions into the pension fund within fourteen (14) days from the end of the calendar month to which they refer.
“IPEC has been receiving complaints from pension scheme members who have received reduced or no benefits owing to failure by their sponsoring employers to remit pension contributions after deducting the same,” a statement reads.
Pension contribution arrears stood at about ZW$5,3 billion as of March 31, 2022.
Speaking exclusively to NewZimbabwe.com , ZCTU acting secretary general, Runesu Dzimiri, accused the government of not taking workers’ issues seriously, saying such conduct has left companies at comfort as they know that they will not be reprimanded.
“Why are relevant ministries not taking legal action against the defaulters and putting regulations with stiffer penalties to deter such toxic capitalistic tendencies?
“Most pensioners are now destitute because employers are deducting dues but not remitting them to the pension fund. As ZCTU, we are rattled by such conduct and we strongly suspect that there is corruption happening behind the scenes.”
The ZCTU leader said numerous reports are being received daily from workers who fail to receive their pensions because of non-remittance.
“It also appears that most defaulters are taking advantage of the shambolic judicial system which takes ages to resolve labour related matters in some instances. But at the end of the day, we are puzzled as to why the government is not enacting stern measures to curb the crisis?” he said.
Dzimiri questioned why top performing companies like OK Zimbabwe, who by own admission in a trading update for the nine months ended December 31 2021, admitted that revenue grew, were reluctant to remit dues.
OK Zimbabwe’s revenue grew by 29% for the quarter and 37% for the year to date in inflation adjusted terms and by 103% and 132% for the quarter and year to date respectively in historical terms, with sales volumes growing by 27% for the nine months.
“It is very unfortunate that the government only has pro-workers and pro-poor policies on paper which are not being put into practice. They often forget and underestimate the imperishable role played by labour in building the economy,” he added.