Elo Edremoda, Warri
President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to prevail on the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), to harmonize pension benefits of retired staff of Delta Steel Company (DSC), Ovwain-Aladja in Udu council area of Delta State, with those of other steel firms across the country.
In a Save Our Soul letter to President Buhari, signed by the chairman, DSC sectoral branch of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Akpoteghor Iseakpobeje, the retired workers also called for the payment of outstanding 12 years pension arrears.
Disclosing that there have been disparities in the payment of the former steel workers, the letter stated, “it is highly disheartening to note that, as at today, due to non-harmonization of Pensioners on the same grade level, there is a great disparity in pension payment to pensioners of Delta Steel Company who retired on the same grade level at different times.
“For example, a supervisor who retires on grade level 8 step 6 in 1995 earns less than another supervisor who retires on same grade level in 2005 in the same DSC, and when compared with our counterparts in other government owned steel companies, we discovered that the pension was not properly computed before its submission to PTAD by Delta Steel Company Management.
“We hereby appeal that same allowance and salary structures used for computing monthly pension for Jos, Oshogbo and Katsina steel companies be applied for the payment of pension benefits to Delta Steel Company.
“We appeal strongly that funds should be released to PTAD to settle the remaining 12 YEARS arrears to avert the gradual decimation of the Senior Citizens”.
The retired staff further thanked President Buhari for directing PTAD to assume responsibility of their monthly pension after 13 years neglect by previous administrations, as well as regular payment of the stipends from 2018 till date.
However, the DSC pensioners noted that pension payment in tandem with national minimum wage has been a setback in the “good pension scheme” by the Buhari-led government.
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“As at today, some of the Delta Steel Company Pensioners receive as low as N2, 000 Naira per month, owing to non-harmonization of the pension.
“In a country where approved minimum wage of N30,000 for workers is considered to be grossly inadequate, paying a pensioner anything less than the current minimum wage will be suicidal on the part of the Pensioners,” the letter stated adding that same pension template for other defunct steel companies be applied to DSC.
Other issues raised are the payment of benefits to next of kin of deceased pensioners and the “short payment and outright omission” of some pensioners from payroll without explanations.
A separate petition letter by the DSC branch of the Association of Iron and Steel Retired Staff of Nigeria, addressed to the lawmaker representing the Ughelli North, South and Udu Federal constituency, Hon. Ejiroghene Waive, had noted that the DSC retirees “are the only parastatal in the steel sector” still calling for payment of pension arrears.
The retired workers wondered why they are given “discriminatory treatment,” disclosing that they have provided all necessary documents required by PTAD to enable the regularization of their pensions and arrears payment.
It will be noted that in June 2005, some of these pensioners were disengaged after the privatization of the company, causing them to suffer untold hardship which include health issues as a result of work hazards and their children dropping out of school.