The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) joins the nationwide clamor for the Congress and Senate to override President Aquino’s Veto of the SSS Pension Hike Bill.
Ranmil Echanis, UMA secretary general, totally agrees with the statement made by Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares that many companies are not penalized for non-remittance of membership payments to the SSS. This is rampant among landlords and agricultural corporations employing agricultural workers in the country.
Added Echanis, “Colmenares, the principal author of the SSS pension hike bill, worked as an organizer among sugar cane cutters in his native Negros Occidental during his early activist years. Many agricultural workers toil for landlords and agri-corporations as casual workers without benefits and social security.”
Echanis explained that most sugar agricultural workers including those for bioethanol production are not covered by the SSS even if they contribute to the pension fund. This includes the more than 1,500 workers of Ecofuel-GFII (Green Future Innovations, Inc.) in Isabela and in almost all of the haciendas in Negros Occidental.
This is also true in the banana plantations of Marsman-Drysdale in Davao where the company continues to deduct SSS contributions from its 3,000 workers, but the company does not remit anything. Those with SSS accounts are instructed to declare themselves as self-employed.
Even former farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita have declared that when Cory Aquino was running against Marcos in the elections in 1986, their SSS contributions were never remitted to the pension fund from 1985 – 1990.
Many of these farm workers are now SSS pensioners and like most other senior citizens can barely survive on the measly pensions they get that has had no increase since 1997.
“These pensioners should be able to enjoy the P2,000 across the board increase which they deserve especially after enriching a lot of landlords and transnational and local companies engaged in agri-business through their sweat and blood,” said Echanis.