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I hope to open a dialogue with you, the readers, concerning matters which interest you and concerning which we may exchange information, which, when of general interest, may be shared with Members through this Bulletin.
It is often asked, for example, even by people approaching retirement, WHERE to set up home in order to minimize taxes, and HOW to do this, (often without divulging too many of one's little secrets!)
Not so long ago, CERN used to organize seminars on preparation for retirement for staff approaching retirement and their families. The proceedings were published. We shall press for the resumption of these seminars, which provided much useful information including on tax matters. You will appreciate that we cannot be fully aware of the fine details of the different national tax systems, (even the national coordinators seem to have disappeared!) in advising on making the declarations, BUT we shall seek out and pass to you addresses of official services where you may get information and/or discover what you will have to pay as your contribution to the functioning of your host country.
On your side, let us know how you manage to recover from difficult situations and make the most of every day. Like Father Christmas, we shall try to reply without delay!
The 22 Committee Members, including the two Members co-opted, met four times in this period, with a mean attendance of 17 Members, under the
presidency of Philippe Bernard. The following are the most important matters treated:
The present Committee has formally held office since 1 January 2007. It was elected in the Autumn 2006 elections held as the mandate of 13 old Members would expire 31 December 2006. Among the Members stepping down were the President, the Secretary and Assistant Secretary, the Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer, and 4 delegates to the Staff Association. The remaining 9 Members, including 5 delegates, were elected in 2005. Since the two auditors had been elected for 2 years in 2005, there was no occasion for their re-election.
A call for candidates for the Autumn 2006 election was circulated to GAC Members early in September 2006. Eleven candidates came forward for the eleven vacant Committee posts: 9 of the 13 exiting Members and 2 new candidates.
Counting of the votes by 14 tellers took place 21 November and yielded the following results:
|Are elected as members of the Committee||Votes||%|
|M. LINDECKER NC)||Gilles||858||90%|
|M. FRIGO NC)||Vittorio||828||87%|
Notes: NC) = New Candidate; % = % of votes cast
Participation: 59.2% (954 votes cast for 1614 voting bulletins distributed).
The new Committee, consisting of 11 newly elected Members, 9 Members elected in 2005 and 3 Members and the three Members stepping down, J.F. Barthélémy, M. Mathieu and C. Sharp, held its first meeting 1 December 2006. Phillippe Bernard was unanimously re-elected President, and went on to form the the new Committee. He confirmed in their previous posts the 17 original Members. He proposed G. Lindecker as the new Secretary to replace M. Mathieu and that F. Wittgenstein et J.C. Gouache become Observer and assistant observer at the Pension Fund. The President and the Committee expressed their thanks to J.F. Barthélémy, M. Mathieu et C. Sharp for their efforts during many years of service.
The new Committee approved the proposal of P. Bernard to co-opt M. Buhler-Broglin as Assistant Secretary, and to co-opt once again R.Cailliau as informatics expert for our website (Cf. Article 14 of our statutes).
The organigram of the new Committee is as noted in page 2 of this Bulletin:
P. Bernard requested a meeting with S. Lettow, the Chief Financial Officer, to alert him to the problems encountered by pensioners concerning taxation and residence permits, and to discuss the resumption of seminars on preparation for retirement.
Together with the Association, the GAC Committee has followed very closely the work of the sub-group of the CERN Council reviewing the principles of governance of the Pension Fund. As indicated in the article devoted to the Pension Fund, this sub-group has produced several documents, the latest for approval at the Council session of 14/15 December 2006.
The Association vigorously opposed this document and called for a work stoppage by the personnel on the morning of 15 December 2006. Our Committee fully supported this action, and encouraged GAC Members to join in the movement by our active colleagues. Many of you responded to this appeal. The action was successful, the controversial document being set aside. The need for vigilance remains, however, as Council aims to put into place the new governance structure by 1 July 2007.
Another subject requiring close attention by our Committee together with the Association is the Health Insurance scheme. In discussions in the context of the last five yearly review, Council asked for an examination of the long-term financial equilibrium of the Health Fund. The Committee will follow very attentively these discussions, which
will continue for most of 2007.
Our nine Staff Association delegates have played their part in the commissions established by the Association concerning Health Insurance, retirement pensions, and pension guarantees.
The structure chart gives details of our participation.
Four permanences staffed by 3 Committee Menbers have been held during the period covered, dealing with questions by future and new pensioners, and with pensioners with a particular problem. Many retired staff responded to the invitation to the Christmas drink on 29 November 2006. Philip Bernard recalled in his speech the problems concerning the Pension Fund and encouraged pensioners to support any actions which might be necessary.
The GAC website is now fully operational. The Committee thanks J. Allaby et R. Cailliau for setting up the site and the material therein. We maintain a database of electronic addresses of pensioners who use email in order to be able to communicate rapidly with as many of you as possible in case of need. We ask those who have not yet done so to send us their email address at our address on the cover page of the Bulletin.
During these four months, we were able to greet twenty people at Permanence sessions.
Questions frequently raised concern
It is clear from these questions that the resumption of the seminars on 'Preparation for Retirement' would be useful for future pensioners. The GAC President will discuss this matter with the CERN Social Services.
We remind you that the Permanences are held each month on the first Tuesday (excepting January, July and August) from 14:00 until 17:00 in the conference room of the Staff Association, and that interviews are individual and confidential. Dates of forthcoming permanences are published in the CERN Bulletin .
Your visit will be welcome even if you have no pressing questions.
There is no doubt about the level of our representation, since we have 1672 Members among the 2500 beneficiaries of the Pension Fund. We shall nonetheless renew the campaign of recruitment and strengthen communications between us, to involve you more in our activities in your favour, and encourage you also to participate in our activities
The GAC accounts and the projected budget for 2007 will be presented at the General Assembly for approval, and comments and suggestions from the Assembly. Please attend (remember there will be a 'pot' afterwards).
We have learned with regret of the deaths of our former colleagues named below:
|Claude DEGRANGE||ex-FI||9 October 2006|
|Armando PASQUALE||ex-PE||11 October 2006|
|Maurice SAVARY||ex-AT||26 October 2006|
|Jean-Marie DESSI||ex-ST||2 December 2006|
|Alfred DALLÜGE||ex-PPE||4 December 2006|
|Jacqueline CAPESTRANI||ex-ST||24 December 2006|
|Harry STÜCKI||ex-EST||26 December 2006|
|Héribert MOREL||ex-SB||1 January 2007|
|Emilio ZAVATTINI||ex-PPE||9 January 2007|
|Henri DEMO||ex-AT||26 January 2007|
|Jean-Paul PASQUET||ex-AT||26 January 2007|
|Fernand MORNAL||ex-DA||26 January 2007|
|René Louis ROUX||ex-DOC||27 January 2007|
|André GRILLOT||ex-AT||2 February 2007|
|Yvonne HOG||ex-AS||5 February 2007|
|Georges SCHRANER||ex-SB||7 February 2007|
|Roger GALIANA||ex-PS||15 February 2007|
and of the death of other beneficiaries of the Pension Fund:
|Susan MEIER (veuve d’Edwin, ex-LEP)||24 October 2006|
|Francine MONNARD (veuve d’André, ex-SB)||13 November 2006|
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.
The main developments concerning our Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS) during the last six months are described below.
There have been no changes to report in the membership of the Board in the last 6 months; the complete membership list is regularly published in the CHISBull.
The examination of the future structure of CHIS is one of the principal matters to be taken up in the course of 2007. Finally it has been decided to place the examination in the hands of a working group under Mr. Lettow, the Chief Financial Officer. The CHIS Board has formally requested that any proposals the working group might put forward be first of all examined by the Board, since we have no member in the working group!
Discussions still continue to improve the placement of the CHIS capital, notably the LTC (Long Term Care) Fund reserve, of around 34MCHF.
Problems in the French Administration on the one hand, and in the board of the Management firm foreseen for this matter on the other hand have delayed a formal agreement, but this matter should be settled in the first quarter of 2007.
The confidential declaration of family circumstances will be circulated as usual by the Pensions Fund office.
Our contract with UNIQA has been extended for 2 years, until 31 December 2008.
Hôpital de la Tour: after arduous negotiations la Tour will no longer increase its fees for 2007 and agrees to maintain our present agreement until its termination on 31 December 2007. Let us not forget however that this remains an expensive hospital.
Geneva Cantonal Hospital: new proposals have not yet been received. The HUG are engaged in restructuring their billing systems.
Clinique de la Colline: Discussions continue, as proposals so far received do not appear acceptable.
At present the statistics for 2006 indicate the following trends:
In evaluating medical costs in general we may state that the total sum refunded to members was about 59.2 MCHF between 1 January and 31 December 2006, an increase of 4.9% over the corresponding period in 2005. Of this pensioners' claims amounted to about 34MCHF.
Preventive medicine: the group continues to consider the matters of cancer prevention and also the reimbursement of costs associated with long term illness.
Revision of the rules: a detailed report is due early in 2007.
Finances: an updating of the various ceilings for reimbursement has been undertaken.
Long term Care: As noted above, the costs of LTC have considerably increased. The totals of the different items were of the order of 1.35MCHF for daily care (+20%), and 0.55MCHF for paramedical care (+38%). As at 31 December 2006, 83 people drew benefits in the LTC scheme; altogether 97 people benefited during 2006 (+9%). The medico-social commission carried out 33 evaluations, an increase of 43%. We were not able in 2006 to conclude the revision of the ceiling for reimbursement of daily care, but it remains one of our priorities.
In Bulletin 33, we reported the measures taken by CERN Council with the aim of rebalancing the Fund finances. Now since the Council had considered, amongst other things, the actuarial report of January 1 2004, wherein the actuary found he was not in a position to conclude that the present and future situation of the Fund was guaranteed within the limits of the hypotheses on which the most likely actuarial model was based, Council decided to form a sub-group, under its vice-President, to re-examine the principles of the governance of the Fund.
In a preliminary report issued at the end of 2005, the sub-group had proposed that the mandates of the Members of the Governing Board be limited to six years (where no limit had previously existed), and Council immediately accepted this proposal. The sub-group followed up early in 2006 with a proposed re-definition of the principles of governance of the Fund, together with a further proposal drafted by the sub-group enlarged to include representatives of the CERN Administration, of the Fund and of the Governing Board. Unable to agree upon a solution, Council asked a group of independent experts to propose a governance structure, and also asked the CERN Administration to select a firm to carry out a comparative survey of equivalent Pension Funds. The experts' report cited above, dated 22 September 2006, has been analysed by a revision group appointed by Council whose Members were chosen 19 October 2006. This analysis resulted in a document for adoption at the Council session of 14/15 December 2006.
The Governing Board of the Pension Fund was not kept up to date with these reports, discussions and decisions and was able to glean an ideaof developments, often long after the event, only indirectly.
However, seeing at the last moment a copy of the document to bepresented to Council in December, it called an extraordinary meetingon the 11 December 2006 and passed by a large majority a motion calling upon CERN Council not to accept the submitted document.
In the light of the above, the Staff Association called for aconcerted work stoppage on the 15 December 2006. GAC lent its support to this action.
The President of Council received representatives of the Personnel and of GAC in the Governing Board in the afternoon of 14 December. Council thanked the revision group for its document and decided to form an ad hoc study group to put forward proposals regarding the governance of the Fund until 31 March 2007. This adhoc group consists of: 2 representatives from CERN Council, 1 from ESO Council, 1 from the CERN Director General, 1 from the Governing Board, 1 from ESO staff, 1 from the Staff Association, 1 observer from GAC and 2 independent external experts.
This group, which has already met twice, is working on the basis of the independent experts' report mentioned above. After a meeting scheduled for 20 February, its Chairman intends to present a proposal to Council on the required date.
The Governing Board at its January meeting received the above-mentioned report comparing the CERN scheme with equivalent schemes. The Board was obliged to note that the report was not adequate for use as a working document and returned it to its authors via the CERN Administration, responsible for this project.
As required by the rules, the Governing Board is responsible for overseeing the actuarial study of 1 January 2007. A sub-group has therefore defined the terms of reference of the project and has requested the Administration to update the databases so that the computer program used by the actuary as the basis of his work may be used. First results are expected during summer 2007.Regarding the GAC representation in the Governing Board, Jean-François Barthélemy has declined an invitation to stand for re-election to the GAC Committee. Our thanks are due to him for his perseverance in defending the interests of GAC, wherein he has invested much time and energy. The Committee nominated by acclaim Jean-Claude Gouache as his successor.
This group's work has not progressed for more than a year, with no meetings, no reports and no proposals.
The Judicial Services, Human Resources and the Staff Association have been too absorbed by the review of Staff Rules, and the five-yearly review of salaries to give time to any other matters.
We impatiently await more attention to pension guarantees in 2007.