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Philippe Bernard, GAC President during the past seven years, convinced me some two years ago, that we all, who have spent most of our professional life at CERN, should continue after retirement to devote some time to represent and defend the CERN pensioner's interests within the Organisation. Active and retired CERN people are both relying on the CERN specific social protection, the mutual Health Insurance Scheme and the Pension Fund of the Organisation. Council has now granted to CERN and ESO pensioners a seat and voting right in the Governing Board of the CERN Pension Fund - this obligates!
Philippe Bernard also insisted that the time has come this year to exchange our roles in the GAC-EPA committee as president and vice-president, respectively.
When reading the contributions to this bulletin, one can appreciate, that serving as a member of GAC-EPA represents a non-negligible workload on all these volunteers. It is therefore now my turn to thank all colleagues who leave the committee after so many years of active participation, all those who continue to serve and all those who joined the GAC-EPA committee, elected by the CERN pensioners, of which unfortunately only 2/3 are inscribed members of GAC-EPA. A participation level we should aim to increase.
First of all, A WARM WELCOME to the ESO pensioners who are joining our Association because they share our concerns with the Pension Fund.
The delegates of GAC and the Staff Association are very worried about the Fund's management change.
The Healt Insurance Scheme is looking into ways to face up to medical expenses for active staff and (future) pensioners.
Spring is here again: I hope you will all enjoy the sunshine; looking after your garden and your memories; cultivating friendships with neighbours and friends; there are many useful activities, often voluntary, to which pensioners can lend their time and their smiles.
“Hello, hello, Mister Spring …”
The Committee, comprising 20 members in 2007 (2 of whom were co-opted) met 4 times during the above period, with an average presence of 17 members, firstly under the presidency of Philippe Bernard, and later of Horst Wenninger. The most important matters considered were the following:
The new Committee formally took office 1 January 2008, with members chosen in the Autumn 2007 elections, held to replace the 10 members whose mandates expired 31 December 2007. Members standing down included the Vice President, the Assistant Secretary and the 5 Delegates to the Staff Association. The remaining 10 members including 4 Delegates were elected in 2006. The mandates of the 2 account auditors expired also 31 December, so these posts were included in the Autumn elections.
In September 2007, members of GAC were invited to present themselves as candidates for this election. Fourteen candidatures came forward for the ten posts to be filled: eight outgoing members and six new candidates.
Vote counting by 12 scrutineers took place 28 November 2007 and yielded the results noted on page 7.
Participation: 55% (930 votes cast for 1700 voting bulletins distributed)
The new Committee comprising 10 newly elected members, ten members elected in 2006 and one member who had not put himself forward for re-elecion held its first meeting 7 December 2007. Horst Wenninger was unanimously elected President, and proceeded to form the new Committee. The 17 previous members were reappointed to their old posts. He proposed that Philippe Bernard become Vice-President, and that Alain Burlet and Anthoine Blin join Françoise Beetschen-Buttay and René Barthélémy in manning the permanences. The President and the Committee thanked Mario Ceselli for service over many years.
President's proposal was also approved to co-opt once again Robert Cailleau as expert in informatics for our Website [cf. Art 14 of the statutes].
The Committee further approved the creation of a new seat for a representative for the ESO Pension Fund members, [a post for the moment unfilled].
As we announced in the previous Bulletin, new management rules for the Pension Fund have been agreed by the Cern Council in June 2007.
These new rules mean that our representative at the Administration Council, rather than simply being an observer, becomes a full member with voting rights. As our representative will also represent ESO pensioners, a new seat on our Committee has been created, to be taken by a member chosen by our retired ESO colleagues.
Consequently GAC has become GAC-EPA: «Groupement des Anciens CERN-ESO Pensioners' Association» .
It is now an appropriate time to bring our statutes into line with these changes. In accordance with our current statutes, a revised version will be submitted to an Extraordinary General Assembly convened immediately after the General Assembly scheduled for 2 April 2008. This Extraordinary General Assembly will be followed by a written approval procedure presented to all members of the new GAC-EPA.
Our proposals to the Administration have been successful in that we have secured the resumption of the seminars concerning preparation for retirement which have been most successful in the past. Such a seminar was given last October.
We have also raised another matter. Many among us have been baffled in the face of certain difficulties which ex-Cernois sometimes face. We believe there should a precise contact address in the Administration where these often recurrent questions could be treated. At this stage we may only say that our request has been favourably received.
In close collaboration with the Staff Association, the GAC Committee has carefully followed the instigation of the new management of the pension Fund. As you will read in the article in this Bulletin dedicated to pensions, the new Governing Board has met 3 times. We shall follow carefully important developments in this field.
Another matter to which, along with the Staff Association, our Committee has contributed concerns the Health Insurance scheme. A working group has examined the long-term financial stability of the Health Fund and presented its conclusions in the Autumn of 2007. The most important result was the CERN Council's decision to transform and protect the current reserves for Health insurance and for long-term care by the creation of a capitalized Fund - reserves used hitherto by the Organisation for non-social purposes.
Our nine delegates to the Staff Association have played their part in the commissions established by the Association. The structure chart specifies the areas in which we participate.
During the period covered by this Bulletin, 4 permanence sessions covered by at first 3 and then by 4 Committee members were held, dealing with questions concerning the retirement of new and future pensioners, or others preoccupied by particular problems.
Numerous pensioners accepted the invitation to our 'pot de Noël' held 28 November . Philippe Bernard in his address recalled the problems affecting our Pension Fund and our Health Insurance Fund, and Lucio Rossi presented the Open Days to be held 5 and 6 April next, with April 5 reserved for staff and pensioners, the latter encouraged to act as guides on these days.
Our website address has been amended to take account of of our new title, GAC-EPA. The Committee expresses its thanks to Jim Allaby and Robert Cailliau for updating and changing the contents of our website.
We are maintaining a database with the addresses of pensioners using e-mail in order to have a means of rapid communication with a maximum possible number of you in case of need. We strongly encourage you to inform us of your address by sending an e-mail to .firstname.lastname@example.orgAre elected as members of the Committee: (Note: NC) = Nouveau candidat)
|M. NAUDI NC||André John||459||49,8%|
|M. BLIN NC||Antoine||457||49,6%|
Are elected as internal auditors: (Note: NC = New candidate)
|Mme. HÄUSERMANN NC||Monique||806||87,5%|
Information concerning our financial situation were sent to you with the invitation to our Ordinary General Assembly and will be shown in our next Bulletin.
At present we have 1'729 members. Although this is a satisfactory number, we encourage you to make other former colleagues aware of our activities; lend them a copy of this Bulletin so that they can see what we do.
Since the beginning of the year, a few changes have taken place in the “permanences” team.
Mario Ceselli has “retired” after 15 years in the team. His experience, his availability and his joviality will be sorely missed. He has promised to visit us from time to time.
Two new members have joined the team: Alain Burlet and Antoine Blin.
Alain has been a member of the GAC Committee for some years. He has been involved in social activities both in CERN and in his Commune in Ain.
Antoine, a recently elected young pensioner, has also been active in social matters in his Commune in Savoie. He will help us to understand CERN as it is today!
During the last three months of 2007 and in February 2008, over 15 people came to consult us. The problems remain the same with: UNIQA reimbursement of emergency ambulance transport to hospital, reimbursement of home care for terminally ill patients, French tax questions (CSG, CRDS) and also Swiss tax concerns.
In principle, the dates of our “permanences” are announced in the fortnightly ECHO of the Staff Association you receive with the CERN Bulletin. This can sometimes (seldom!) be overlooked!
Our meetings continue to take place in the Staff Association Conference Room in Building 64, from 13:30 to 16:30, on the first Tuesday of each month (except January, July and August). Therefore the dates in 2008 are (5 February, 4 March), 1 April(!), 6 May, 3 June, 2 September, 7 October, 4 November, and 2 December. See the calendar.
We look forward to seeing many of you, with or without problems!
We have learned with regret of the deaths of our former colleagues named below:
|Hubert CONUS||ex-ST||16 October 2007|
|Jean-Paul BACHER||ex-TS||20 October 2007|
|Michel FILLION||ex-PH||11 November 2007|
|Michel FRANCESCHI||ex-IT||24 December 2007|
|Ulrich JACOB||ex-PS||3 January 2008|
|Frank LEHMANN||ex-TIS||9 January 2008|
|Murray ROSS||ex-SL||10 January 2008|
|Pierre BERTHOLET||ex-EF||19 January 2008|
|Jean-Pierre COLLET||ex-EF||22 January 2008|
|Jacques ROMAND||ex-FI||27 January 2008|
|Pierre REY||ex-TS||28 January 2008|
|Mario WEISS||ex-PS||10 February 2008|
|Aimé PEYRAUD||ex-SB||13 February 2008|
|Jacques JENNY||ex-AT||24 February 2008|
and of the death of other beneficiaries of the Pension Fund:
|Jacqueline ZBINDEN (veuve de Robert, ex-FI)||20 November 2007|
|Mitzi NARDINI (veuve de René, ex-FI)||23 November 2007|
|Eileen STEPHEN (veuve de Robert, ex-DD)||12 February 2008|
|Chantal BRUNET (veuve de Michel, ex-PPE)||16 February 2008|
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.
CHIS Reserve Fund. The creation of this fund, which has been under consideration for some time, has finally been settled at the end of 2007. The Director-General proposed the creation of a special fund, managed by CERN, but separate from CERN's general accounts. This proposal was approved by the CERN Council at its meeting in December 2007. The fund was set up at the beginning of 2008 with a credit of 93 MCHF. It includes the various CHIS reserves and the capital of the Long Term Care (LTC) programme. The accounting system will ensure that the capitals of the two parties are clearly identifiable. The 93 MCHF, placed in two banks, are expected to generate an interest of at least 3%.
The results of the 2007 exercise are now known, with a benefit of approximately 3 MCHF. They have shown that, without the increase of the annual deductible and the equivalent contribution by CERN, the 2007 exercise would have ended with a deficit. The yearly statistics are not yet available and will be published in the next CHIS Bulletin.
Health Care Providers. Several agreements have been renewed, including those with the Hôpital de la Tour, The Clinique de Genolier, and the Clinique Générale Beaulieu, the tariffs of the last-named continuing to be particularly interesting for us.
The Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) are now using a pathology-based tariff structure, but the financial impact of this will only be known at the end of 2008. We remind our members that insured pensioners, who pay their taxes in Geneva, should be charged LAMAL tariffs.
EHPAD, Ornex. A draft agreement has been prepared between CERN and this establishment, the construction of which is nearing completion. When the contract has been finalised and signed, the Organisation will make a financial contribution. This will ensure that, during the next 20 years, members of CHIS (whether or not they are covered by the French Social Security) will have priority for five places. Further details concerning admission procedures will be announced as soon as possible.
Since our previous article, the Governing Board has met four times: on 25 October 2007 (with its former membership for its 158th meeting); on 16 November 2007 (in Munich); on 14 January and on 18 February 2008 according to the principles of the new management procedures, of which the main elements were given in Bulletin No. 35.
On the evening before the Munich meeting of the Governing Board, the personnel and pensioners of ESO were informed of the results of the 2006 exercise and of the new management procedures. We took the opportunity to explain to their pensioners the foreseen modification to the GAC Rules and the subsequent change of its name. In spite of all our efforts, we must admit that, until now, very few ESO pensioners have become associated with GAC.
The Governing Board has set up several working groups in order to satisfy the new conditions imposed by the CERN Council, namely:
These groups have already started their work that will occupy them for up to several months before their conclusions can be examined at a general session of the Governing Board.
Following pressure from its external auditors, the Organisation has agreed to review its accounting procedures in order to adapt them to the International Public Sector Accounting Standard (IPSAS) norms (CERN/FC/5219/3, December 2007). For the Pension Fund, this will imply (as for other similar institutions of the international public sector) that the financial deficit or surplus must be accounted in the balance sheet of the Organisation. This means that the Pension Fund whose main "sponsor" is the Organisation will probably also have to revise its accounting procedures. This change has resulted in some controversy among pension experts in Switzerland and elsewhere, because pension funds are composed of separate assets required by law, even if the employer is the ultimate guarantor of the funds. The financial and legal situations are different when the commitments are the responsibility of a pension institution legally independent from the employer who must guarantee benefits. In this case, the employer is not responsible for risks due to the volatility of the capital and the commitments of the separate institution (Jacques-André Schneider, les normes comptables IAS 19,SWISS GAAP RPC16 Revue suisse des assurances sociales et de la prévoyance professionnelle, Tome 50, 2006, fasc 6).
The legal situation of CERN is different because the commitments are not inscribed in a pension institution legally independent from the employer who must guarantee benefits. The Governing Board has taken note of this new problem and is waiting for a detailed presentation by the Administration of the Fund. This will set out the consequences of the new accounting procedures of the Organisation for the management of funds, and, in particular, the negative impact of the technical interest rate, caused by the new accounting norms, since it is a question each year to react to the interest rates applied to the Confederation's loans rather than those of firms.
It will be necessary to present the long-term yield of the Fund that remains the best indicator for the establishment of its investment policy.
The Governing Board has foreseen the preparation of a new long-term strategic allocation plan that should result (when the necessary studies have been completed) in a redistribution of its assets with the increase of allocations for "absolute return" and "real estate and structures".
The Governing Board has had to face up to unforeseen problems concerning the implications of the employment policy of the Organisation as applied to the staff of the Pension Fund. At the time of writing, no concrete result is available.
The report of the actuarial group has caused long debates during several meetings, and it was only on 18 February that a text was adopted and which will be presented to the Finance Committee and the CERN Council in March.
The Governing Board has adopted a text defining a code of conduct covering the comportment of its members in relation to ethics, integrity, honesty, open-mindedness, impartiality and competence.
The Governing Board has taken note of a report by the internal audit treating, in particular, the functioning of trading operations by the administration of the Fund. This report falls into the mandate of, and will be studied by, one of the working groups mentioned above and will be discussed when the first conclusions of the group are available.
Finally, concerning the yield of the Fund, it can be said that it has shown up well in comparison to the Swiss average and that the end-2007 yield should be over 5%. Unfortunately, the stock exchange instabilities of January and February 2008 have largely cancelled out this excellent result. A comparison with the results obtained by the consultant Watson Wyatt mandated by the Association Suisse des Institutions de Prévoyance (ASIP) gives a median performance in 2007 as 1.8% on the total portfolio of participating pension institutions. This portfolio includes investments in shares and bonds, direct and indirect real estate investments, as well as those in hedge funds. Debtors and financial equalisations are not included.
The median performance (yield) means that half of participants obtained a better performance and the other half a worse performance. The performances of pension institutions can occasionally vary from the median value, since they depend to a large extent on the individual allocation of types of assets.
For various reasons the work of this group has not progressed.
Since the end of 2007, the Pension Fund has been subject to a new management structure. The Legal Service, Human Resources and the Staff Association have spent much time in defining the new structure, which implies a complete review of the Rules and Regulations of the Pension Fund.
Clearly this will bear on the work of the Working Group on Pension Guarantees.
Working groups will be constituted in incorporating the different changes. One of these groups is mandated to examine certain questions, one of these concerning the responsibilities of the Group on pensions. We must wait to discover who will deal with what, and in what manner.
So, more news in the next Bulletin.