Civil servants fight on for pension redress
A committee of ten pensioners was elected to facilitate the re-opening of the compensation of retired civil servants by the Government Pension Fund Redress, finalised in March this year. Disgruntled former servants from the Eastern and Western Cape are continuing to mobilise for new applications, despite threats to arrest them.
The Pension Fund Redress is the provision of compensation to specific classes of government employees who suffered various forms of discrimination under apartheid.
This includes educators, nurses, and correctional services employees, female teachers who had to resign to give birth as well as citizens employed in the former Transkei, Ciskei, Bophuthatswana and Venda.
The pensioners claim that they were not given sufficient information on time to benefit from the programme that ran between 2002 and 2012. A process of verification of applications and actuarial calculations was closed out in 2018. The Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) has promised to impose legal restrictions on those preying on the emotions and hopes of the elderly.
“Applications for the redress are closed, this process is complete. All those that qualified applied” said Frikkie De Bruin, General Secretary for PSCBC. “There was an extensive media campaign, workshops, and union representatives were part of provincial task teams that marketed the project. A total of 138 000 applications were received”.
De Bruin cautioned that members must approach these mushrooming groups with caution, especially if there is money involved in this offer to assist.
Raman Khandoo, former principal of John Bisseker high school, a member of this newly formed committee said, “The unions are expected to take up the fight and support us. This initiative is aimed at repairing the damage done by the apartheid regime, to restore dignity to servants that suffered under discriminatory remuneration and pension scheme practices.”
Some pensioners are part of this movement because their applications, submitted on time, still had not been paid out.
“Members must submit forms with ID copies and death certificates for those that are deceased. We are not giving false hope to applicants, but we are merely facilitating the process of redress,” said Khandoo.
The relevant unions such as SADTU, DENOSA, NEHAWU, POPCRU and others signed a PSCBC agreement on the closing out of the project prior to its closure in 2012. There was a 75% majority on the agreement. The movement of civil servants argues that these unions made the agreement without consulting its constituencies.
Chris Mdingi, provincial secretary for SADTU Eastern Cape expressed the union’s support to any retired teacher who is calling for the re-opening. “The government must not be mean to workers, we will do all that is in our power to support them,” he added.