Labour federation, Cosatu, and some South Africans have criticised the extension of the retirement fund reforms. Fund contributors will now have to wait until March 2024 to withdraw a third of their retirement fund contributions.
Cosatu says the latest revised guidelines by National Treasury are selfish and against workers. The new guidelines were announced last week.
The newly revised guidelines were meant to be implemented by March next year. But pension fund administrators have requested additional time to put systems in place to implement the retirement fund reforms.
The reforms propose that workers can withdraw a third of their retirement funds with an upper limit of R25 000 a year. The remainder can only be accessed upon retirement. This scheme will benefit both the private and public sector.
Cash-strapped workers are now demanding swift implementation of the reforms.
“I don’t think they should postpone it because we should be able to get a portion of our money now. At the end of the day, everyone has their own struggles so that we should benefit and the family. So, I think they should not postpone it,” says one worker.
“Until you people told me I never knew (about this). Now, I’m going to speak to my boss. I think they should tell the people about this stuff because it is our money. We deserve everything. I mean that will help us. With the coronavirus (we) lost a lot of money. This will really help people that are struggling,” says another worker.
“I think this thing of the government delaying the pension, I think it’s not right because we are coming from the COVID and as we are coming from the COVID, most of the people lost their jobs. When we get a portion of our pension fund it will help us a lot,” says another work.
Cosatu says the industry must not be selfish by seeking additional time, as the labour federation wants these reforms implemented next year.
“The other key remaining issue is around the timeframe. The original timeframe was that it was going to be done in March next year, and the industry has requested additional time, and we think they are being selfish. They must come to the party as workers are really struggling. But we must recognise there is some additional need for additional wording of the legislation and there is a need for parliament to process it and the president to sign it. And for pension funds to be put in the systems. We propose that there is a fair compromise to pass the bill by March next year and come into effect by October next year,” says Matthew Parks from Cosatu.
Parliament has been conducting ongoing public hearings on the retirement fund reforms. It says it will deal with the revised guidelines in the finance committee.