THE Anambra State branch of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), has expressed worry over the non-payment of gratuities to retired workers for the past four years.
At their meeting in Awka, the pensioners also complained about the reluctance of the state government to harmonize pensions in the state.
The state chairman of NUP, Comrade Anthony Ugozor who spoke during the pensioners’ council meeting in said the two issues remained a sour taste among retired workers in the state.
Although he commended the state government for the regular payment of pensions in the state, he regretted that people who left the service hoping to use their gratuity to start a new life have been made to suffer after serving the state diligently.
He said: “One serious worry is that gratuity of pensioners for the past four years is yet to be paid. The union very sincerely urges the government to commence gradual liquidation of such arrears of gratuity to avoid accumulation to unreasonable magnitude.
“Also, one of the greatest embarrassments of Anambra State pensioners remains the non-harmonization of pension as there is a great disparity in payment of monthly pensions to retirees on the same grade level and step, simply because some retired earlier than others.
“There is, therefore, the need to make all counterparts be at par with each other because they served the same government. At present, a pensioner who retired 10 years ago receives less than 50% of what his counterpart who retired in 2020 receives.
“Furthermore, it is on record that for more than four years now, 2002 and 2003 primary school pensioners have been weeping and appealing for payment of their 11 months outstanding arrears of their pension approved for payment in March 2014 by former Governor Peter Obi. The union very strongly and passionately appeals to Governor Willie Obiano to direct immediate payment of the 11 months arrears.”
The state Head of Service, Mr Harry Udu, who attended the meeting, explained that the government was desirous of liquidating the arrears of gratuity, adding that the delay was due to a paucity of funds.
He said: “Governor Obiano enjoys a robust relationship with workers, serving and retired. We have our challenges but the governor has at least ensured regular payment of salaries and pensions and they are happy.
“We hope to pay the outstanding gratuities when resources improve. I want to assure you that the issue of gratuity is not forgotten.
“For now, we are studying to know whether it is something government can handle. Payment of gratuity is a constitutional matter, but whether we can carry it at this period is another matter.”