By Felicia Imohimi
Mr Nana Takai, a former labour leader, has called for a review of the National Pension Act and National Housing Fund to ensure workers friendly policies.
Takai, the immediate past National Chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), made the appeal at the ongoing labour workshop organised by the Federal Health Sector Institutions of NANNM in Abuja.
The workshop has its theme as “Unionism and Professionalism in Nursing”.
He urged members of the association to liaise with the NLC for a review of the existing unpopular policies.
Takai frowned at the present pension Act that denied workers their contributions immediately after retirement.
He further explained that based on the present Act retirees were often compelled to take a percentage out of their pension contributions after six months to one year while the administrator would be in possession of large portion, describing it as unhealthy for retirees.
He emphasised that the Act should be made more flexible by ensuring that retirees have access to their full entitlement if they so desire and do whatever they intend to do with the money.
According to him, constitution of the country give everybody right to own his property and invest it, but for the National Pension Act scheme the entire money of workers are tied down to a particular group and deprive the retirees of their finances.
He said: “I will be very happy if the association can link up with Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and other labour unions to fight and make sure that the National Pension Act is reviewed in such a way that it gives option for individuals to either live their money there or pick their money to invest.’’
Takai called on the government to expedite action on the review of Pension Act to enable workers live a healthy and fulfilled life after retirement rather than struggling for a living due to lack of funds.
He further urged the association to liaise with NLC in ensuring that the National Housing Fund Act is made flexible in such a way to allow contributors access loan while serving to enable them own their houses.
According to him, at the moment the housing fund cannot be accessed by workers until they have put in 35 years in service or when they have attained retirement age of 60 years.
“I advise the association to work hand in hand with the NLC to make the condition of the National Housing Fund very flexible for members to access loan and if they choose to retire before they can have their money so be it.
“But as it is now you can only access your money until you have put in 35 years in service or you are 60 years of age which is not wise.
“I urge you to seek audience with the NLC to see if those areas can be touched or reviewed,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Wale Olatunde, National Chairman of NANNM, said the workshop was an induction course for the newly elected unit heads of the association to keep them abreast with the nitty-gritty of trade unionism and professionalism.
Olatunde, who identified the nursing profession as a peculiar trade union group, emphasised that the theme was selected for them to understand their responsibilities as professionals and their responsibilities as trade union group.
He emphasised that they must be able to demarcate between trade unionism and professionalism.
According to him, in any given situation when you give human being a step he might take two and ignorance of the law is not an excuse.
“So we deem it necessary that we equip them intellectually and broaden their horizon on their professional responsibilities and unionism.’’
He however advised them against allowing their union activities to infringe on their professional responsibilities, advising that they must abide by the ethics guiding the profession.
“Professional misconducts should not be misconstrued with unionism and the association will not tolerate or defend professional misconducts from anyone,” he said.
The chairman further urged them to unite in pressing home their demands, adding that the earlier they unite the more achievable the demands of the association becomes.