Sri Lanka protests against ‘pension’ rise: report

May 29, 2011 (LBO) – Protests against a controversial attempt by the state to grab long term control of private sector workers’ retirement funds and deduct more money from their salaries are rising. The Sunday Times newspaper said more than 10,000 workers from Sri Lanka’s export processing zones took part in protests last week.

Workers have protested against state moves to gain control of gratuity given at the end of their employment at a firm and also to gain control of maturing funds in two existing pension funds.

State workers do not contribute to pension funds, and Sri Lanka’s government deficit spends mostly with the pension funds of private sector workers.

But with an aging population, net contributions into the main Employees Provident Fund can even turn negative in the coming years as lump sum repayments increase. The state has now proposed an annuity scheme which can keep funds in state hands for a longer period.

The Sunday Times newspaper said 26 unions that make up grouping called the Joint Trade Union Alliance met on Wednesday to plan more action against the ‘pension’ move.

The proposed pension bill also has provisions not to repay a cent especially to those who