Access to Pension Fund
The notion of government employees accessing portions of their retirement to be paid back at reasonable and affordable rates, was NATU’s brainchild. In 2015 NATU had the vision that accessing portions of the retirement fund would be an important way to alleviate public service employees’ financial challenges. NATU canvassed this idea among government employees, at large, and secured overwhelming support. Unfortunately, government and officials of the GEPF vehemently resisted and opposed this proposal – prompting many resignations by public service employees who were in financial distress. These resignations could have been avoided had the government listened and given this worthy proposal the attention that it deserved. The employees who resigned did not do so to access better paying jobs but were pushed out as a result of the financial crises they faced at the time.
When government and the GEPF rejected this proposal, NATU led the Action to petition the GEPF to allow government employees to draw lump sum payments from their GEPF savings to allow them to settle pressing financial exigencies while they are still in employment. The NATU Petition was well received and supported by 250 536 workers in the public service even though other unions discouraged their members from signing the petition, simply because it originated from NATU. However, government has now belatedly conceded that this option is a good way to bring financial relief to government employees. Now that government has endorsed and supported this proposal, we still await the fulfilment of the government’s commitment to the concept. Certainly, a quick resolution of this impasse will go a long way to resolving many difficulties faced by public service employees, especially considering that currently many face unprecedented psycho-social challenges, occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated many other pre-existing financial comorbidities.