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St. Maarten teachers union protests non-payment pension allowance to seniors

WEDNESDAY, 16 JANUARY 2013

~ Calls on pensioners who have not got allowance to report to union, APS ~

PHILIPSBURG–Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) President Claire Elshot is strongly protesting the non-payment of an allowance, which she said is owed to pensioners, who did not buy back into the pension system of the former APNA Pension Fund (now APS Pension Fund), before it became mandatory in 1998.

Calling it a grave injustice, Elshot is calling on all persons who went on pension over the past five years and who are entitled to the “allowance by means of pension” and “onderstand by means of pension,” but who are not receiving it, to contact the union post haste.

She said the union will be taking the information from all pensioners in this situation and investigate the matter, as pensioners who are entitled to this allowance should receive it. Pensioners can contact the union via e-mail: winislandteach@yahoo.com , or tel. 581-8343.

Elshot said civil servants who did not buy back years into the former APNA pension fund for whatever reason are entitled to receive an allowance known as “allowance by means of pension,” while those who were labourers working for government are entitled to receive “onderstand by means of pension.”

She said when APNA became mandatory in 1998, persons were given the opportunity to buy back years into the fund, so that they could be entitled to more pension once they went on retirement. She said, however, that the system had been skewed and filled with problems from the onset.

While some persons had started the process to buy back years, it was never completed in many cases, due to no fault of theirs. In some cases, she explained, the government workers were never given the information that they needed to buy back into their pension, while in other cases information was never followed up on.

Persons who were unable to pay the money required to buy back into the pension fund were told that if they did not buy back, they would be entitled to receive an “allowance,” so they “would not walk away empty-handed.”

This allowance, Elshot said, would not be the full amount persons would have been entitled to if they had bought back into the fund, but they would still receive some extra pension income.

Persons who would have been entitled to allowance by means of pension would have received 75 per cent of what they should have received if they had participated in the fund before it became mandatory in 1998, while those entitled to onderstand by means of pension would have been entitled to 50 per cent. Persons would need to have worked 35 years to be entitled to their full pension payment.

Elshot said while this allowance was owed, at least one pensioner reported that the request for allowance by means of pension had been denied. The union is not aware of the reasons for the denial, but Elshot said this would be investigated. The union president said she was aware of many other persons who had requested the allowance over the years, but to date, have not received any response.

The union is calling on all persons who went on pension over the last five years to get in touch with it with all their information, so that the matter can be raised and investigated.

“It’s regrettable to see that persons are not receiving this allowance,” Elshot told reporters at the Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Unions (WICLU) weekly press conference on Tuesday. Elshot is First Vice President of the WICLU.

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