March 8, 2009
The militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called for the resignation of SSS Administrator Romulo Neri in the wake of his declaration that the social security fund will not release loans to laid-off workers. “Neri does not deserve the post of custodian of the workers’ retirement and social security fund. He is not simply stingy but is insensitive to the workers,” insisted Renato Magtubo, chairperson of PM.
“If Neri cannot tell the people the truth about the NBN ZTE deal, then how can we trust him to reveal the real condition of SSS funds? In the interest of transparency and accountability, the SSS Board must reveal to the workers the state of the workers fund. So workers can validate Neri’s declaration that the 10 per cent ceiling allowed by law has already been reached,” Magtubo argued. He also asked that the SSS open its books for an audit by representatives of organized labor other than those already sitting in its board.
He added that “Workers have sacrificed part of their daily pay for social security contributions in preparation for a rainy day. Now is that rainy day. In fact this is bound to be a rainy season. To deny workers this social protection and safety net in their hour of need is cruel and coldhearted.”
PM is also asking Congress to study an amendment to the SSS law in order to lift the 10 per cent ceiling and the necessity of a government infusion of money to the workers’ fund so it can provide benefits for the estimated hundreds of thousands of workers that will be displaced.
“This 10 per cent limit should not be a concrete ceiling but a movable elevator that can be adjusted as the conditions necessitate. In this historic crisis that the world is going through, arbitrary limits such as the 10 per cent ceiling should not be hard-and-fast rules that cannot be changed for workers lives are at stake,” Magtubo elaborated.