Social security CIPRES migrant workers now covered

Under the multilateral convention of the Inter-African Conference on Social Security (CIPRES), ratified by Cameroon, the NSIF held a working session with CEMAC institutions on the 21st of November 2023 in Yaounde.

 The meeting room on the 10th floor of the NSIF Head Office building in Yaounde was the setting for the information and exchange meeting, which was attended by the heads of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) institutions based in Cameroon, including ISSEA, OCEAC, CCPAC, EHT-CEMAC, CPAC, the CEMAC Pink Card, etc.

The message to the participants focused on implementing the CIPRES multilateral convention signed in Dakar on the 26th of February 2006 and ratified in Cameroon by decree No. 2022/311 of 19 July 2022. As explained by Christiane Mpongo Kono, Technical Adviser in charge of Governance (CTG), who chaired the meeting on behalf of the Director General of the NSIF, this is a revolution in the social protection of migrant workers working in CIPRES Member States: « The aim was to make it clear to the CEMAC institutions based in Cameroon that migrant workers are now entitled to NSIF benefits in the same way as Cameroonian workers. Cameroonians who find themselves in Côte d'Ivoire or the Central African Republic should also enjoy the social benefits provided in these countries, which are members of CIPRES. ».

 In compliance with the agenda, the CTG gave a summary and synoptic presentation of the reasons, the issues, the major challenges, and the scope of the convention. In this context, the CIPRES is obliged to guarantee workers who are nationals of Member States the benefit, in the territory of the other contracting parties, of social security legislation and laws, under the same conditions as nationals, in the application of the texts in force.

Among the difficulties to which the Multilateral Convention of Dakar proposes to find solutions, are the remedy to the hassles linked to the reconstitution of the careers of migrant workers, the lack of interconnection of the financial systems of the different Funds, and the absence of bilateral conventions between Member States of CIPRES.

 Several concerns were nonetheless raised by the participants, in particular the exclusion of diplomatic staff from the multilateral CIPRES convention and the removal of the ceiling on contributions to the old-age, disability, and death pensions (PVID) branch, to take account of the often high salaries of expatriate workers.

In response to these concerns, the NSIF reiterated that a distinction should be made between diplomatic staff under an employment contract with an international, regional, or sub-regional organisation on the one hand, and career diplomatic staff on the other, which is the category to be excluded from the scope of the Convention. Regarding seconded civil servants, all participants were unanimous on the fact that the social security contributions deducted from them should be transferred monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, or annually, depending on the convenience of their home public administrations. As for the salary ceiling in Cameroon, which is 750,000 CFA francs, this is all that can be said. In addition, it was pointed out that the introduction of supplementary pension schemes remains a major objective of CIPRES, the realisation of which would help to offset any discrepancies that may arise from one scheme to another.

 At the end of the discussions, the participants in the meeting congratulated and thanked NSIF and its Director General for this initiative: « This is a very commendable initiative by NSIF, which has made us aware today of the NSIF multilateral convention. It is not normal for a worker to leave his country to work in another country and then, when he retires, find himself destitute and without rights. All migrant workers returning home must be able to benefit from an old-age pension so that they can lead a decent life », said Ange David Yembassa, chief of staff for the Central African Pesticides Committee (CPAC).