18 Sep 2020

Unions warn of retirement crisis in Fiji

5:43 pm on 18 September 2020

A Fiji Trades Union Congress report is warning of a national retirement crisis if the government continues to encourage workers to withdraw from their pension funds to support their families during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Suva, the capital of Fiji

Suva, the capital of Fiji Photo: 123RF

In its Covid Rapid Assessment Report, the congress said data was collected from over 2000 members during a survey conducted between May and June this year.

The report also found that 99 percent of its members want the government to do more to protect their jobs and rights.

The Congress said it was concerned that Fijian workers would be retiring in poverty.

"Although 81 percent of workers surveyed indicated they benefited from the government-announced stimulus package, workers felt the government should do more than buffer their income losses from their own retirement savings in the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF)," the report stated.

"Considering that 70 percent of members have less than $FJ10,000 in their FNPF accounts, the further use of workers' funds would deplete their eligibility to support their education, home purchases and create a national retirement crisis."

The report also found the continued use of FNPF would further burden families to support their retired parents and increase stress on government resources such as social welfare and medical services.

Of the 2132 FTUC members interviewed, 2117 said they needed the government to do more to support and protect them while eight members said they did not need government support and protection.

As of Wednesday (16 September), about $US50 million had been paid out in FNPF Covid-19 relief payments, with $US35m paid by the FNPF and government's top-up totalling $US13m.

A total of 85,959 people made withdrawals in phase one, 27,513 in phase two, 17,811 in round two of phase two, 20,781 in phase three and 2,291 in phase four of the payout scheme.

Just over 20,000 members were assisted by the government top-up in phase one, 15,477 in phase two, 13,226 in round two of phase two and 7,029 in phase three.