The Retirement Benefits Authority should move quickly and sort out workers’ pensions mess. The growing number of pensioners waiting for it to address cases lodged against their former employers is an indication of a social security system gone amok.
A pension is a contract for a fixed sum to be paid regularly to a person, typically following retirement from service and those in authority should appreciate the important role played by retired workers by honoring their obligation to the former employees.
This is a matter not open to debate because it is unimaginable to disrespect elders. Unfortunately, this is the situation the country now finds itself in as thousands of senior citizens troop to the RBA to either dispute the lumpsum amount they were paid upon retirement, or the pension they are currently earning on a monthly basis as part of the retirement package.
Many retirees who have disputed such rulings went on to appeal to RBA. According to reports elsewhere in this newspaper, many are yet to get a resolution.
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This is because in many instances, the authority rules in favour of trustees and sponsoring companies. The Retirement Benefits Appeals Tribunal (RBAT) has in many cases overruled RBA.
While the tribunal deserves a pat on the back for being responsive to grievances over disputed allowances for former government and private sector pensioners, it must not sit back in complacency and think that it has done an adequate job of quelling public disquiet and addressing injustice.
There are many more instances of improper tabulation of the monthly allowances due to several retirees and these must be resolved.
For instance, cases where employers have admitted that they calculated the figures wrongly should be dispensed with quickly.
While it is sad how distanced RBA can be from the sense of injustice among members of the general public whenever it rules in favour of employers — even in cases where common sense would dictate otherwise — it is even more disheartening to note the lack of urgency on this matter.
In case the RBA and those of a similar mind in the sector have not noticed, this disconnect is what is partly fueling the retirees’ fury and doing little to endear the authority to the general public.
If the RBA and other bodies charged with ensuring the safety of workers’ benefits could address the various unfair practices that have taken place over the past, then it would not only leave a great mark on the nation’s history of having successfully addressed social injustice, but would help several other Kenyans who rely solely on their pension.
Equally important is the fact that this would help the authority to clear its name and restore the confidence of workers on its ability to safeguard their savings.