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This year, CERN's 50th anniversary gave us the occasion to organise a well-attended reunion on the morning of 15th October; a very successful meeting thanks to the brilliance of the speakers and the excellent buffet offered by the Director-General.
Unfortunately, we have since heard that the Governing Board of the Pension Fund is proposing that pensions should not be adjusted in 2005. This badly timed proposal, coming just after we had received so much praise for our past achievements, is unacceptable. It is the result of an ill-considered reaction to an actuarial study that has not yet been examined in detail. In any event, the pensioners should not be the only ones to suffer, as the three concerned parties are the Organisation, the existing staff and the pensioners.
The Staff Association of which we are a part has strongly supported this point of view and in the name of your Committee I have written to the Chairman of the CERN Council giving him our standpoint. You can be assured that we shall do all that we can to avoid this erosion of our pensions
At the close of this year, I send to you and to your families my best wishes for good health and happiness..
If you have recently retired, we welcome you to our Association and thank you for the support you are giving us by joining.
The celebrations for CERN's 50th anniversary have ended, at which we correctly played our part. A DVD showing our participation and a re-print of the speeches are being prepared. More information about these will come with the documents for the next Ordinary General Assembly.
Unfortunately, the possible modification of pension adjustments in order to improve the current actuarial imbalance is causing us concern. To be continued!
Our best wishes to you and your family.
January to July 2004 (etc!)
The 20-member committee met six times during this period, with an average attendance of 17 members, under its President, Philippe Bernard. Principal matters dealt with were as follows:
The present Committee has been formally in place since 1st January 2004. Six of the eight members elected in the autumn of 2003 are delegates to the Council of the Staff Association. Three of the 12 other committee members were elected in 2002. The full list of members was published in the previous bulletin, Nº 28.
In June, we sent out an appeal for candidates to replace the 12 longest-serving members whose mandates will terminate at the end of 2004. Two of these (Mrs. Susanne Muratori and Mr. Jean-Pierre Dauvergne) do not wish to continue, while the other 10 members have agreed to stand again. Unfortunately, only one new candidate (Mr. Carlo-Enrico Vandoni) has come forward, resulting in only 11 candidates for 12 vacant positions. The voting procedure (dispatch of voting papers, reception and counting of the votes cast) will take place during the last quarter of 2004, so that the new Committee can be formed by 3rd December. Due to the lack of candidates, it will consist of only 19 members.
The Committee regrets this lack of candidates as it feels that a strong, dynamic Committee remains important for the proper defence of your interests. The future of your pensions, especially those of the younger ones, does not appear to be without problems. Please remember this when our next call for candidates will be made in June 2005.
The celebration of CERN's 50th birthday gave the opportunity to contact the new CERN Management in order to prepare for the special meeting of retired staff. In view of the many pensioners wishing to attend, there were many logistical problems to be resolved. It must be recalled that formally it was the Director-General who issued the invitations to the meeting. Our President arranged for several eminent pensioners to talk about CERN’s history. The details of the ceremony were sent out with the invitations.
These relations continue in a very cordial atmosphere. Just like our Committee, the Staff Association is suffering from a lack of candidates. Our discussions include the important question of whether or not an internal levy should be imposed on pensions, in the event of a similar levy (only at an early and hypothetical stage) being imposed on staff salaries. We have had friendly discussions on several practical issues, such as using the Staff Association Secretariat also as the GAC Secretariat, as well as a better integration of GAC information on the Staff Association pages in the CERN Bulletin («Weekly»). It is appropriate to recall that GAC is an integral part of the Staff Association.
Our nine delegates to the Staff Council continue their activities that are briefly mentioned below, and again in more detail in the specific chapters of this Bulletin.
Now that the problems associated with French Taxation (CGS and CRDS) seem to be on the way to a solution, our attention has turned towards taxation in Geneva following important increases in taxation rates (10 to 15%) specifically affecting pensions. We are consulting a lawyer concerning this matter.
Our representatives in the CHIS Board are co-operating with UNIQA in attempting to moderate inflation in hospitalisation and pharmaceutical costs. We refer you to the CHIS Bulletin for their recommendations, and to the article found later in this Bulletin.
Our delegates follow the half-yearly performance of the Fund’s movable assets. The situation has improved since the recovery abserved on the stock markets, but not enough to counteract the losses of the last two years. It is too early to obtain and comment on the accounts of the Fund for the present exercise. This will have to wait until the next issue in Spring 2005. For more details see the relevant aticle later in this Bulletin.
Progress in this issue remains very slow, but some intermediate objectives have been attained such as the publication of the experts’ report in an international legal journal.
Four Committee Members have held six permanences during the above-mentioned period replying to questions from future and next pensioners, as well as trying to help pensioners with a particular problem.
Our Ordinary General Assembly took place on 31st March 2004. Three hundred members were present or represented. The meeting went well and the subsequent reception was much appreciated. The minutes have already been sent to you separatelyJ. Allaby has developed a GAC web site with expert help from R. Cailliau who was warmly thanked by the Committee.
We have finally succeeded in creating a web site for the GAC. The access to this site is listed on the front page of this report. You are all welcome to try it out and I am ready to support changes or improvements to this next year. All of the members of GAC are urged to try it out on your PCs or Macintosh work stations.
I must stress that the key work on this web site was done with the help of an expert who is Robert Cailliau. Without his help we would not have our web page at all and I hope he will continue to help in the new year when he will be retired from CERN. I hope he will become a member of the GAC Committee in the near future because his skills are very valuable.
If you have changes which you wish to see in the format of the web site, do not hesitate to communicate your ideas either to me (Jim.Allaby@cern.ch) or to Robert.Cailliau@cern.ch.
I hope that many of you will enjoy the web site.
Olivier BAYARD – Michel MATHIEU
We report in general terms on matters treated at the Permanences, and indicate the numbers of visitors welcomed. At the Permanences, we hold personal, confidential interviews, and not public meetings. After discussion of a member’s problem, we attempt to suggest a way forward or give a contact address where help may be obtained.
Eighteen visitors were welcomed between the reopening of the Permanences in September and December. The bulk of questions concerned:
We are always happy to get “courtesy” visits.
Sometimes people approaching the “holiday” of retirement come to learn about the permanences, and to discuss aspects of retirement. Others, already retired, come just to see us, to chat about their hobbies, their health, etc.
Some have things to say about how they have resolved certain problems, or to pass on information which may help colleagues in similar circumstances. We would like many more visitors of this kind.
For the first half of 2005 Permanences will continue to be held on the first Tuesday of every month, that is:
Even if you have no special question for us, do come and say hello. Anyone unable to make their own way can write to the Staff Association mentioning “Permanences GAC”, and if desired “for the attention of …” (one of the undersigned). See you soon.
Françoise BEETSCHEN-BUTTAY, Mario CESELLI, Jean-Pierre DAUVERGNE
We have learned with regret of the deaths of our former colleagues given below:
|Raphael ARMENTEROS||ex-EP||4 March 2004|
|Ernst HUGI||ex-SPS||8 March 2004|
|Jacques CAUBET||ex-TIS||10 March 2004|
|Marcel FOL||ex-SB||6 April 2004|
|Mervyn HINE||ex-DD||26 April 2004|
|Henri-Louis PERROTIN||ex-SB||6 May 2004|
|Bo ANGERTH||ex-DSU||17 May 2004|
|Bryan MONTAGUE||ex-LEP||23 May 2004|
|Pierre LAPOSTOLLE||ex-PS||5 June 2004|
|Noël DESMARIS||ex-ST||9 June 2004|
|Emile REMY||ex-FI||11 June 2004|
|Eliane DE MODZELEWSKA||ex-SB||5 July 2004|
|Max STEINER||ex-PS||23 July 2004|
|Gerhard SCHNEIDER||ex-PS||24 July 2004|
|Jean-Claude BARONNET||ex-MT||12 August 2004|
|Franz REISER||ex-SL||15 August 2004|
|Bernard PERLER||ex-AS||27 August 2004|
|Johannes GEIBEL||ex-PS||1 October 2004|
|René MONNERET||ex-FI||29 October 2004|
|Jean-Claude PINASSEAU||ex-ST||17 November 2004|
|Harry RIEDER||ex-AT||27 November 2004|
and of the death of other beneficiaries of the Pension Fund:
|Giulia MOMO (widow of Jean-Louis, ex-SB)||16 May 2004|
|Anna SCHERRER (widow of Leo, ex-EF)||18 May 2004|
|Georgette MACHURAT (widow of André, ex-SB)||29 June 2004|
|Anne-Marie VITTOR-STUDER (widow of Marcel, ex-SPS)||4 July 2004|
|Maria FREI (widow of Emil, ex-SB)||11 November 2004|
On behalf of all members of GAC, the Committee sends its sincerest sympathy to the bereaved families.
If you wish to write a word of sympathy to the bereaved family you can send it via the CERN Pension Fund, which has the address but is not authorised to give it to third parties.
During 2004, your representatives have until now attended 11 meetings of the CERN Health Insurance Supervisory Board (CHISBoard), as well as many meetings of various working sub-groups (legal aspects, policy matters, CHISBull).
At the beginning of the year, the Board set out its aims, namely to continue to watch over the scheme in general, to control the increase in costs, and maintain good communications with insured persons
The financial results of the 2003 exercise were positive; hospitalisation costs were down by 3.4%, contrary to the cost of medicaments, which continued their rise by 6.3%. No doubt the reduction in hospitalisation costs was influenced by our warnings concerning the tariffs of the Hôpital de la Tour and our suggestions for alternative establishments. Unfortunately, these trends have not been confirmed by the statistics of the first half of 2004, which show a marked increase in the amount of reimbursements, a rise of 9% compared to the same period the previous year. While it is too early to make final comments, it can be seen that once again hospitalisation costs (+12%), cost of medicaments (+9.5%) and dental care (+9.5) show the greatest increases. The introduction of TARMED in Switzerland has had a certain influence over these costs, as it was the likely cause of a large increase in the number of reimbursement claims at the beginning of the year. The Board is following closely the evolution of this situation
Contact with the various healthcare providers (Hôpital Cantonal de Genève, Clinique de Genolier, Clinique de la Métairie, Clinique Générale Beaulieu, UNILABS) continued throughout the year with the object of revising and improving the tariffs applied to us. A new convention has been signed in September with the Hôpital de la Tour, bringing the establishment back into the fold of our approved hospitals.
The CERN Management is revising the form for the confidential declaration of the family situation. This concerns spouses insured by our scheme with an annual income of less than 30'000 CHF. It is foreseen to computerise this procedure for active staff, but, for the moment, there will be no change for pensioners.
UNIQA and the CHIS maintain good relations: delays in reimbursement have occurred during the year, caused by UNIQA staffing problems. This problem has now been resolved.
There have been several appeals against UNIQA decisions during the last 18 months. These have led us to insist that our insured persons should keep themselves well informed about the benefits and reimbursement conditions, in order to avoid difficulties that can later create problems.
Following cases of fraud, UNIQA is insisting on proof of payment, as foreseen by the rules
The usefulness of long-term care insurance has been clearly demonstrated this year since the number of beneficiaries has risen from 35 to 73 on 30th June 2004 and a further 22 requests had still to be evaluated on the same date.
The CHISBull was published regularly and emphasised the need for preventive actions. It continues to inform you about the developments in the various aspects of our health insurance scheme.
Jean-Paul Diss, Pierre Lazeyras, Robert Muzelier
(This article closely follows the summaries published in the CERN Weekly Bulletin nrs 5, 9, 24, 29, 41)
See separate page.
Jean-François BARTHÉLEMY, François WITTGENSTEIN
The working group has continued to examine the different aspects of pension guarantees considered to be vital for the creation of a Foundation in the event of CERN's dissolution.
Questions concerning the withdrawal of one or several Member States during the existence of the Organisation, as well as the guarantee in the case of dissolution that the Organisation would pay its debts to the Pension Fund, have been discussed in a report prepared by three international legal experts.
This report was published in the "Revue Générale de Droit International Public" at the beginning of 2004 with the title:
DES ETATS MEMBRES
D’UNE ORGANISATION INTERNATIONALE
DU SYSTEME DE PENSIONS DU PERSONNEL
NOTAMMENT EN CAS
DE DISSOLUTION DE L’ORGANISATION
OU DE RETRAIT D’UN ETAT MEMBRE
LE CAS DU CERN
Le Professeur B. CONFORTI,
Université de Naples
Le Professeur Ch. DOMINICE,
Université de Genève
Le Professeur G. RESS,
Université de la Sarre
The publication of this report has been our greatest success this year, since, its summary clearly sets out CERN's obligations:
« In determining what would happen to the rights of the beneficiaries in the event of dissolution of the Organization, it is essential to bear in mind that the entitlement to a retirement pension is a fundamental component of social security provisions and secondly that CERN is bound by obligations devolving on the Pension Fund until cessation of the rights of the last beneficiary. In the event of default by the Organization, the Member States should provide it with the funds it requires to honour its obligations. If the Organization is dissolved, it would be incumbent on the Member States to ensure the Foundation to which the rights and obligations of the Pension Fund have been transferred had the necessary financial resources available to meet those obligations.
Furthermore, if a Member State withdraws from CERN, the Fund’s capacity to meet its obligations to its members must be assessed at the time of withdrawal to ascertain whether or not the State concerned needs to make additional payment. »
The Working Group is still studying questions concerning the maintenance of benefit levels to be paid by the Foundation and the protection of purchasing power, as well as the provision of health insurance for the Foundation's beneficiaries. However, these are extremely difficult and delicate issues and are being treated step by step.
Several Geneva tax payers, including some GAC members, have contacted the Commission fiscale du Grand Conseil asking for information about the state of the discussions concerning the proposed cantonal law, 9010, mentioned in Bulletin No. 28.
In spite of two reminders, the last of which was sent on 21st October, we have not yet had a reply.
Jean-François Barthelemy et François Wittgenstein