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Cosatu to act on pension reforms

Theto Mahlakoana 13 January 2016

Johannesburg - Labour federation Cosatu will launch a “massive campaign” against the newly passed Tax Laws Amendment Act, which forces workers to preserve their retirement benefits.

The organisation said President Jacob Zuma had, by signing the reforms into law, “poisoned” relations between the government and workers.

The law, which comes into effect on March 1, is meant to discourage workers from withdrawing savings from pension and provident funds prematurely.

However, the move has angered workers who feel the government wants to control their money.

“Workers will fight any attempts to impose the compulsory preservation of our hard earned deferred wages. We will spare no effort to stop this tyranny; because no government has a right to unilaterally decide for workers, how and when to spend their retirement savings,” said Cosatu spokesman, Sizwe Pamla.

The law was put on ice several times while National Treasury consulted stakeholders on its feasibility.

Cosatu said one such consultation with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) was abandoned by Treasury so that it could go ahead with the reforms unilaterally.

The contentious issue would also be a political sore point for the ruling ANC ahead of the local government elections next year.

Despite having committed that it would campaign for the ANC ahead of those elections, the federation said the developments would unsettle that process.

“This [reform] will complicate the campaigning for the upcoming local government elections because workers will also find it hard to be persuaded to vote against their interests,” said Pamla.

It was likely that the number of workers who have resigned ahead of the implementation of the law would increase during the next two months as they rush to cash in their benefits before they are compelled to preserve.

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