Wednesday, 18th July 2012
Private sector pensioners ‘disappointed’ with Budget measures
The Gibraltar Private Sector Workers and Pensioners Association (GPSWPA) has expressed extreme disappointment at the lack of any provision been made towards private sector pensioners in this current budget.
The association say that they were promised that the Government’s manifesto commitment would be fully implemented in their term of office. At a meeting in April with Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo and Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia, the association were promised that this budget would see the beginning of the initiation of that commitment.
A spokesperson for the GPSWPA said: “It seems that there are public funds available for a large number of sectors locally and yet there is no money available for the most vulnerable citizens of our community. These are private sector pensioners and time is certainly not on their side”. As a result of this the association have said that they will be seeking an urgent meeting with Government to discuss all this further.
The GPSWPA was established a year ago by retired accountant Leslie Bruzon who felt something should be done about what he saw as an injustice, and so he called a well-attended public meeting which led to the establishment of the Gibraltar Private Sector Workers’ and Pensioners’ Association (GPSWPA).
Mr Bruzon said: “Almost everyone is aware of the great differences that often exist between occupational pensions paid to retired public service staff and those received by people whose working lives have been spent with private employers. Years ago 80% of the people employed in Gibraltar were in the public sector and only 20% in the private, nowadays there is 77% in the private sector and only 23% in the public sector.”
The association claim to have attracted over 1,000 members, and they advised: “We put our case to Unite the union and they not only agreed with us but expressed strong regret that they hadn’t done anything about such an important matter before. They said they wanted to put that right as soon as possible, and so we are meeting them quite soon to discuss the practicalities of the matter. This is good, because they are the ones who can apply the pressure. There is a lot of apathy amongst private sector workers and a lack of unity.”
Mr Bruzon expressed that the Moroccan Workers’ Association and the Moroccan Community Association were equally keen to cooperate, and the other pensioners’ movements, the Gibraltar Pensioners’ Association and the Senior Citizens’ Association have both expressed their support.
The GPSWPA’s idea is to finance the enhanced pensions by a contribution from each employee’s wage; in addition the employer pays a similar amount. With regards to the amount to contribute, they believe that it should be introduced gradually e.g. a 5% increase could start at 1% the first year, 2% the next, until the 5% is reached.
“Another difficulty is that people are shying away from pension schemes because so many of them have underperformed, making them less attractive. But we are recommending Provident Fund as it is the only one that is guaranteed by the Government of Gibraltar,” said Mr Bruzon.
With regards to the fact that quite a few smaller businesses could find it very difficult to take on the added burden of paying higher pension contributions, the GPSWPA feels that private sector employers should introduce a system for their employees, but their opinion is that if they cannot afford it then government should offer assistance to the smaller companies, indirectly or directly, so that the big pensions differential will eventually fade away altogether.
The GPSWPA holds a surgery at the John Mackintosh Hall every Wednesday from 5.30pm, where free advice is available to everyone who turns up. Should someone wish to join the GPSWPA, there is an annual subscription of £5.