Transnet employees were given false hope when they were told in WhatsApp Voice notes by a rival union that they will be allowed to withdraw money from their pension fund contributions in the Transnet Retirement Fund (TRF).
The Transnet Retirement Fund (TRF) confirmed that there is no such thing of allowing Transnet employees to withdraw R150 000 from the contribution pension fund as it is against the regulations of the Transnet Pension Fund Act.
Furthermore, the Pension Fund Act, which governs most of the pension funds outside of Transnet, has also not yet been amended to allow for pension fund withdrawals while the employee is still employed and still contributing to the pension fund.
Hendrik Fourie, President of the United National Transport Union (UNTU), says the Task Team of the Transnet Retirement Fund (TRF), are investigating all the legal and legislative aspects to submit the proposed amendment of the Transnet Pension Fund Act to Parliament for consideration.
“UNTU supports the plea of its indebted members who are struggling to make ends meet amidst the Covid-19 pandemic that had a devastating negative impact on households,” says Fourie.
Fourie, and Trevor Wasserfall, Vice-President of UNTU, represents UNTU members on this Task Team that Transnet called after the Board of Transnet instructed the Employer to submit well-formulated amendments to the rules of the Transnet Retirement Fund (TRF) for its consideration.
Peet Maritz, Principal Officer of the TRF, says currently South Africa’s legislation does not permit any employee access to his or her pension or provident fund while still employed by the employer. If you resign or are retrenched from your employment, you will be able to access any money invested in your pension or provident fund.
The TRF approved UNTU’s proposal two years ago to amend its rules to allow TRF members to get a pension backed surety when they want to purchase a home or to improve it. No withdrawal from the pension fund will be required and pension assets remain invested.
According to Fourie Transnet Management confirmed that it has not yet submitted the proposed amended rules to the Board of Transnet to approve despite Dr Popo Molefe, Chairperson of the Board, ordering the Transnet Executive to finalise this in June 2020, hence the Task Team was created to deal with the issue.
Fourie says it is very frustrating, but Transnet Management is simply pulling up its shoulders and saying those who worked with these proposals, has left the service of the company since.
It was resolved that these proposals will be considered at the next meeting of the Task Team.
UNTU also tabled amendments to the rules of the TRF as part of its wage demands for 2021 at the Transnet Bargaining Council (TBC). Wage negotiations are continuing.
Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU, accused Transnet Management last week that it was “playing games” with this process while its employees are so heavily indebted that they demand they want to withdraw their hard-earned savings from their pension fund to alleviate their debt.
Fourie says UNTU will leave no stone unturned to ensure that all options proposed by its members are investigated and considered.
UNTU will continue to keep its members abreast of any developments on this matter.