Workers leaders have opposed a proposal by President Museveni halting any further debate on the NSSF Amendment Bill until an analysis on the implications of mid-term access to the workers savings is conducted.
The leaders say the President was misguided to halt discussion and the passing of the Bill by what they called selfish people.
Expressing his dismay at the President’s proposal, one of the workers’ Members of Parliament, Dr Sam Lyomoki, has vowed to go on hunger strike if Parliament does not pass the NSSF Amendment Bill into law.
The workers’ outburst follows last week’s meeting President Museveni held with the MPs on the Parliament Finance Committee at State House, where he reportedly cautioned Parliament to closely analyse the Bill before it is passed into law.
The joint parliamentary committees of Finance and Gender, Labour and Social Development who scrutinised the Bill had in their report to Parliament recommended a 20 per cent midterm access for contributors who are 45 years and above and have saved with the Fund for more than 10 years.
Some MPs threatened to remove the cap and allow NSSF members regardless of the age to access part of their savings.
Addressing journalists at Parliament yesterday, Dr Lyomoki said they have done enough consultations on the NSSF Bill and mid-term access to 20 per cent of the workers’ savings.
“Workers who would have benefited from this money are suffering and we cannot afford wasting more time on research, which was accomplished. We are not asking the government to give us money. It is our money and who says that when you deduct only 20 per cent the Fund will collapse?,” Dr Lyomoki asked. Sources that attended the Thursday meeting quoted President Museveni as having said that mid-term access to funds might lead to the collapse of the Fund upon which he asked Parliament to first recall the Bill for further consultations.
But Dr Lyomoki says the Finance Committee misled the President.
“The committee members had gone to meet President Museveni on the unresolved supervisory role of the Fund. Some MPs wanted the Fund to be under the Ministry of Finance while others wanted it to be under that of Gender. The issue of mid-term access was not part of the discussion,” he said.
“I call upon President Museveni to consult the right people instead of listening to lies. Workers MPs always have the right information,” he added.
He vowed to convince his colleagues to camp at Parliament as soon as plenary resumes, after one week, until the Bill is discussed and passed.
Other workers MPs, however, said Dr Lyomoki had not contacted them about the strike.
“I agree with President Museveni because we do not want to rush things and crush. I ask the Ministry of Finance to provide that information as soon as possible. We had provided those figures but I do not understand why President Museveni wants them again,” Mr Aston Arinaitwe Rwakajara said.
MP Agnes Kunihira said she will have a chat with Dr Lyomoki on the matter.
But the chairperson of National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU), Mr Usher Wilson Owere, supported the protest saying that consultation on the impact of midterm access to the Fund was widely done.
“We demand that President Museveni should allow that Bill to go to Parliament and be passed,” Mr Owere said
The chairperson of the Finance Committee, Mr Henry Musasizi, said Dr Lyomoki should first establish some facts that were discussed in the meeting before commenting on the matter.