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Workers picket SSS, press for refund of overcharge

Workers led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno held a picket this morning in front of the main office of the Social Service System in East Avenue, Quezon City to condemn the state-run insurance firm for overcharging on members’ interest payments for salary loans and to call for an immediate refund of the overcharge.

Carrying a large sign that read “SSS: Sobra-Sobrang Singil sa Manggagawa (SSS: Excessive Exactions from Workers),” the workers said the P789 million worth of overcharge that was collected by the SSS since 2011 belongs to workers and should be refunded immediately.

“We are angry because the SSS, a government agency tasked to help workers, added an unnecessary burden on the backs of workers with its overcharging. It should have ensured that interest rates on workers’ loans are significantly less than market rates, but did not do so,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.

“We are also angry because it’s been more than a week since the SSS’s overcharging was brought to the public’s attention and Pres. Noynoy Aquino is still not doing anything. He has rejected workers’ calls for a significant wage hike, has been implementing a wage cut, and is now condoning the SSS for overcharging payments for members’ loans,” he added.

“The least that the SSS can do is implement an immediate refund. Workers need all the relief that they can get amidst this government’s refusal to legislate a significant wage hike for workers,” he said.

Last Labor Day, Pres. Noynoy Aquino rejected calls for the legislation of House Bill 375, or the P125 Wage Hike Bill, filed by Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Rafael V. Mariano, seeking to legislate a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide.

The Commission on Audit announced last Nov. 3 that the SSS violated guidelines set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on granting credit to SSS members and has overcharged interest payments for workers’ salary loans.

“We demand an investigation into this mess. Those responsible for the overcharging should be held accountable and the allocation of the collected funds be made public,” Soluta said.

“The fact that high officials of the SSS are close allies of the president does not make them untouchables. They have added an onerous burden on the backs of workers who are already suffering from low wages and should be held responsible,” he said.

“We vow to continue with our protests until a refund is implemented by the SSS and until those responsible for the overcharging are held responsible for their act. No less than workers’ welfare is at stake in this issue,” he added.

Obrero, nagpiket sa SSS, giit ang refund

Nagpiket ang mga manggagawa sa pamumuno ng Kilusang Mayo Uno ngayong umaga sa harap ng tanggapan ng Social Service System sa East Avenue, Quezon City para kondenahin ang ahensya sa pag-overcharge sa bayad ng mga miyembro sa interes para sa salary loan, at para manawagan ng agarang refund.

Dala-dala ang malaking karatulang may nakalagay na “SSS: Sobra-Sobrang Singil sa Manggagawa,” iginiit ng mga manggagawa na ang P789 milyon overcharge na nakolekta ng SSS simula 2011 ay sa mga manggagawa at dapat agad na i-refund.

“Galit kami dahil ang SSS, ahensya ng gobyernong dapat tumulong sa mga manggagawa, ay nagdagdag ng pasanin sa mga manggagawa sa overcharging na ito. Dapat tinitiyak nitong ang ipinapataw nitong interes sa mga pautang ay malayo sa market rates, pero hindi ito ang ginawa nito,” ani Roger Soluta, pangkalahatang kalihim ng KMU.

“Galit din kami dahil mahigit isang linggo na mula nang malantad ang overcharging ng SSS pero wala pa ring ginagawa si Pang. Noynoy Aquino. Tinanggihan na nga niya ang panawagan para sa makabuluhang dagdag-sahod, nagpapatupad na nga siya ng kaltas sa sahod, kinukunsinti pa niya ngayon ang SSS,” dagdag niya.

“Ang dapat gawin ng SSS, magpatupad ng kagyat na refund. Kailangan ng mga manggagawa ang lahat ng posibleng ginhawa sa gitna ng pagtanggi ng gobyernong ito na magsabatas ng makabuluhang dagdag-sahod,” aniya.

Nitong Araw ng Paggawa, tinanggihan ni Pang. Noynoy Aquino ang panawagang isabatas ang House Bill 375, o ang P125 Wage Hike Bill, na isinampa ni Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Rafael V. Mariano, para sa isang P125 across-the-board na dagdag-sahod sa buong bansa.

Noong Nob. 3 inanunsyo ng Commission on Audit na nilabag ng SSS ang mga alituntunin ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas tungkol sa pagpapautang sa mga miyembro at nagpatupad ito ng overcharging sa kabayaran sa interes sa salary loans ng mga manggagawa.

“Panawagan namin: imbestigahan ang kasong ito. Dapat papanagutin ang mga may kagagawan sa overcharging at dapat isapubliko kung saan inilaan ang natipong pondo,” ani Soluta.

“Hindi porke malalapit na alyado ng pangulo ang mga opisyales ng SSS ay hindi na sila pwedeng imbestigahan. Pinabigat nila ang pasanin ng mga manggagawa na nagdurusa na sa mababang sahod, kaya dapat lang silang managot,” aniya.

“Magpapatuloy kami sa mga protesta hanggang magpatupad ng refund ang SSS at hanggang mapanagot ang mga responsable sa overcharging. Kapakanan ng mga manggagawa ang nakataya sa isyung ito,” dagdag niya.

Reference Person: 
Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general
Contact information: 
0928-7215313

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