An unacceptable diktat: we must react nowAt the end of 2009, CERN Council created an internal Advisory Group to define the framework and extent of the measures necessary to restore full funding to the CERN Pension Fund.

A first set of measures was approved by CERN Council in December 2010 (CERN/2947). It concerned the members (current active staff) and beneficiaries (retired staff) of the Fund. Since the beginning of 2011, discussions have been focused, in particular, on the conditions offered to our future colleagues who will be recruited from 1st January 2012 onwards.

A new pension plan for staff recruited from the beginning of 2012
Legal constraints have limited the possibility to modify the conditions for active staff (apart from the contribution rate) and for current beneficiaries (apart from non-indexation up to 8%). However, the Advisory Group has imposed framework conditions for future staff which equate to a major deterioration compared to the existing scheme (see our public meetings in November 2010 and March 2011). The Member States had only one goal in mind: make savings.

Concertation cut short
This very restricted framework imposed on the Management by the Advisory Group has prevented the concertation process in the SCC from taking place in the normal manner. It has also been impossible to reach a joint proposal for discussion at the last meeting of TREF (Tripartite Employment Conditions Forum) on Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th May 2011.

At this meeting, the Management presented its proposal and the Staff Association put forward an alternative approach, which highlighted the fact that the rate of 28.33% as the global contribution for new recruits, as recommended by the Management, was not optimal. For us, a rate of 34% would be more appropriate for our Fund to reach full funding several years earlier. But the Member States are determined to make savings in the short term in the guise of a decrease in the Organization’s contribution by a quarter, from 22.66% to 17%, the contribution rate of our future colleagues remaining unchanged, and equal to ours, at 11.33% for benefits which are drastically reduced compared to ours.

At CERN 60% of staff are older than 30 when they are recruited and therefore cannot accumulate sufficient rights to receive a full pension when they retire. The Staff Association therefore asked for the possibility for members of staff to pay additional contributions to the Fund on a voluntary basis.

Taking into account the considerations of the three parties, a proposed three-point compromise was accepted by the Member States by consensus: (1) the DG is invited to present the Management’s proposal in its current state to the June 2011 Committees; (2) the PFGB must check by December 2011 if the recommended contribution rate is sufficient to guarantee full funding in 30 years; (3) the Management has undertaken to study, before the end of 2011, a voluntary contribution scheme enabling staff to accumulate additional annuities in the existing scheme. Concerning this last point, the Management added that the Member States have demanded in no uncertain terms that this should incur no cost to the Fund, Organization or the Member States. What a great deal!

In the coming days the Staff Association will meet the Management in the framework of the SCC meetings to see how the Director-General will combine these different points to draw up his proposal. For the moment the pension conditions offered to staff recruited from 1st January 2012 remain extremely unfavourable and we cannot accept them.

Public meetings and referendum
At the beginning of June we will organize a series of public meetings to review the subject of pensions with you (see the timetable below). A brief explanation of the situation will be followed by a discussion during which the participants may air their opinions on the subject. We must also decide how to show the Member States that the staff no longer want to be dictated to by CERN Council, because the constraints imposed by the latter make a consensus practically impossible during the internal (SCC) and external (TREF) concertation process. You will tell us what you think in a referendum organized alongside these meetings.

We are counting on all of you to attend our meetings and take part in our referendum.

by Staff Association