One of the oldest and biggest labor organizations in the country on Sunday offered two solutions to the Social Security System (SSS) pension hike controversy to help solve retired workers’ problems despite President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s rejection of a P2,000 pension increase.
Sonny Matula, president of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW), on Sunday said Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz should convene the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC) to discuss the pension hike in a national dialogue of workers, employers and government representatives for the benefit of around 1.8 million SSS pensioners.
A former SSS commissioner representing the labor sector, Matula added that, as another solution, the pension fund could recommend to the President “feasible increases in benefits” every four years as stipulated in the SSS Law of 1997 or Republic Act 8282.
Also a veteran labor lawyer and long-time labor leader, he said the government with the cooperation of the labor and business sectors must not simply accept Aquino’s explanation on his rejection of a proposed law that seeks to raise the monthly pension of retired SSS members by P2,000 because it would mean abandonment of the plight of these retirees.
Matula reminded SSS and other government officials that the fund was created to assist Filipino workers from their active life up to the time of their retirement.
At present, SSS pensioners who have been fund members for 10 years get P1,200 a month, while those who have been members for 20 years receive P2,400 a month.
Alan Montano, another veteran labor lawyer and a former FFW president, said the SSS could actually increase the pension without the President’s approval as stipulated in the SSS Law.
Montano said intervention of the NTIPC would be a positive development since it can actually recommend to the Social Security Commission (the unit that leads SSS) to raise the SSS pension.
According to him, NTIPC’s recommendation could “hasten” the proposed increase.
The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), however, said it believes that the 1.8 million SSS pensioners will never get additional support from the government because President Aquino is “proudly anti-labor.”
BMP president Ledoy de Guzman said Aquino vetoing House Bill 5842 was concrete proof of his “renewed attack” on the labor sector.
“When workers demanded regular jobs, [the President]reaffirmed contractualization through DO 18-A. When families of Kentex fire victims demanded justice, he did not prosecute the factory owners. When commuting workers are hard up with their wages, he increased the fare of MRT [Metro Rail Transit] 3 and LRT [Light Rail Transit] 1 and LRT 2,” he noted.
The Kentex fire in Valenzuela City (Metro Manila) killed scores of workers.
“Aquino vetoed the SSS pension hike bill to ensure that his friends and [budies]in the [pension fund]board earn as if they are CEOs of big corporations. Being a capitalist toadie, [his]governance style resembles [that of the head of a]multinational corporation [who]profit-oriented, instead of service-oriented,” de Guzman said.