Morna Robillard, Susan Leech O'Neale, William Blair, Susan Maio, Michel Baboulaz, David Jacobs
Photo credits, tables: CERN, ESO, PFGB, CHIS
The editorial staff is in no way responsible for the texts, drawings, graphics and photos published. The sole responsibilty lies with the authors. All elements constituting this publication are the property of GAC-EPA and cannot be used without the express written authorization of the publisher.
In this column I wanted to write about concertation and its decline at CERN. However in the meantime, things have changed considerably for the better (at least, I hope so).
So there simply remains my annoyance on the subject of ‘a cultural shift at CERN’, announced by the Management in the CERN Bulletin of March 27th last.
The change concerns the obligation of carrying one’s badge in a visible manner, yet another hindering measure to add to the now systematic controls at the entrances to the sites. Some of us will adapt to it though, judging it to be disagreeable but not of major importance.
Nevertheless, the spirit behind such measures seems to me to be disturbing: according to the Management, a visible badge will allow one ‘to tell at a glance who’s who’ and thus ‘If we see a visitor looking lost, for example, we can offer help’.
But I would naively think of offering my help to any human being in difficulty, without worrying about name or status!
One should take the trouble of reading this Bulletin announcement carefully, as the arguments used to defend these measures are associated with a very particular vision of society and its human relations, one which is becoming more and more ingrained.
In the past, CERN knew how to avoid this, by favouring a spirit of community marked by working together in the interest of the Organization.
Thus, instead of continuing to try to export this traditional manner of living together to a world in constant change, the Administation has turned volte-face and implemented the opposite, namely the distrust of and the shutting off towards others.
You may accuse me of being a nostalgic 68er, but personally I would prefer to commemorate May 1968 in a different way.
May the Summer be bright for us all !
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The GAC-EPA accounts are the following :
As usual, I had much pleasure greeting old colleagues at the Annual General Meeting. I noted that some replied to my question “How are you?” with “I’m fine”, but “with some small or even some big health problems even so”. With this in mind, I am taking the liberty to bring to light some information so that we can think about it and try to ensure that we can meet each other again for as long as possible.
First of all, I learned recently that the communications budget (3.9 billion USD) (1) of a certain well-known brand of fizzy drinks is almost as high as the budget of the WHO (4.421 billion USD) (2), something to reflect on. I also noted that during the last fifty years the food industry has created a phenomenal quantity of products of questionable nutritional quality and managed to sell them through unrestrained advertising (3). I begin to think that we have organized a form of nutritional poverty that has led to what is called “diseases of civilization” (diabetes, cancers, heart disease etc.), while at the same time starving the developing world.
Next, let’s take a look at how we feed ourselves and compare our way of life with that of those men and women who have been spared the attraction of modern ways, thus allowing them to live longer and in good health (the island of Icaria in Greece, Okinawa in Japan, the highlands of Sardinia, Loma Linda in California and the Nicoya peninsula in Costa Rica, etc.) (4).
When I think that there is a lot of information available to correct the addictive paths that lead to bad eating habits and that one can easily find on the Web simple and natural solutions to escape from this dangerous food routine, I encourage you to take a bit of time to get back to those simple sensations of taste that lead to health and give much pleasure.
After this information, I leave you with these two thoughts:
The editors are looking again for translators and correctors in the two languages, English and French. We invite you to contact the secretariat.
The healthcare premiums for both active and retired staff will be the same in 2018 as they were in 2017. The current balance of the reserve fund, that is used to reimburse all medical costs that are not covered by the Stop-Loss insurance, is considered to be in a ‘very healthy’ state. There is no defined optimum balance the fund should maintain, but in the last year or two the income from premiums has exceeded the reimbursements. Instead of reducing the premiums, which would be one possible option, the Health Working Group (HWG) would prefer to look at ways in which the benefits could be improved. They will be discussing this question with the ESO management in the coming months.
There are some minor changes to benefits in 2018 as follows.
Article 1.5: There is no split anymore between types of speech therapy that are covered at 40% and 80% respectively; All speech therapy will be covered at 80% if it is on medical prescription.
Article 6.2: The reimbursement ceiling for spectacle frames is increase from € 120 to € 160
Article 10.2: The reimbursement ceiling for corrective eye surgery in increased from € 1000 to € 1750 per person per eye per lifetime.
Article 11.1: The reimbursement ceiling for Psychiatric Clinics is increase from € 290 to € 340 per day.
Despite requests from the HWG for Cigna to carry out a general update of the reimbursement ceilings, some of which have not been changed for over 10 years, this is not been done. The HWG has also requested Cigna to indicated in a transparent way their methodology and benchmarks for setting ceilings. The Long-Term Care benefits that were set over 5 years ago should also have been updated last year. Again, this has not yet been done.
ESO Staff Association
The Staff Recognition Agreement has now been signed by the new ESO DG after a year of stalling with the previous DG. This agreement is designed to clarifying the role and responsibilities of the Staff Association within the Organisation, which are only briefly mentioned in the staff rules and regulations.
The ESO Visitor Centre (Supernova)
The ESO Supernova in Garching was officially inaugurated on April 26. It will be open to the public for 36 hours per week and is being funded by a grant from ESO, in-kind contributions, partnerships and sponsors. Entry will be without charge, at least until 2019.
News in brief and activities of the Committee — (From November 2017 to April 2018)
During this period, the Committee was occupied with several different events, in particular the two recurring exercises of elections to the Committee and the election of the auditors, and the preparations for the Annual General Meeting.
After my short overview you can read the specific articles prepared by my colleagues and thus be more informed.
The secretariat remains at your disposal for any additional details.
1. Results of the 2017 elections, composition of the new Committee and attribution of functions
The current Committee has been in place since 2 February 2018. It comes out of the elections held at the end of November 2017 to renew 12 elected members whose mandates were coming to an end on 31 December 2017. We thus had to elect 12 members. As mentioned in the previous Bulletin, after the call for candidates of August 2017, 13 candidates presented themselves of which 12 whose mandates were coming to an end (11 elected, 1 co-opted) and 1 new candidate. The counting of votes took place on 21 November 2017; 11 departing candidates and the new candidate were elected. The result of this election was as follows:
At its meeting on 1 December 2017 the Committee took note of these results and proceeded to the assignment of functions: as a result all the members of the Committee, already in place or re-elected, kept their functions as in 2017. In particular, Martin Cullum remains the representative of the ESO pensioners.
Gunilla Santiard, departing member, did not stand for re-election. Her functions were taken over as follows:
Michel Boffard, re-elected, is the delegate to the Mutual Aid Fund, and Jean-Claude Guyomar is the Deputy to this Fund.
Françoise Thévenet, re-elected, takes over Social and Cultural Activities. She is also Deputy
to David Jacobs for the management of mail and communications.
In addition, as last year, the Committee decided to maintain Susan Leech O’Neale, not elected, on the Committee as invited member to help our informatics expert Robert Cailliau.
At its meeting on 2 February 2018, the Committee also co-opted two members for 2018:
Sylvain Weisz so that he can continue to represent us on the CERN Council Working Group on Pension Fund Governance.
Enrico Chiaveri in preparation for a possible taking over of the Presidency of our Association (in agreement with our current President).
As of 2 February 2018 the Committee is composed of 21 elected members, 2 co-opted members and 2 invited members.
For the Auditors, only the candidate whose mandate was coming to an end, Adrianus Van Praag, stood for election; he was thus tacitly elected for the period 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2019.
The 2017 accounts will be verified by Reiner Schmidt, whose mandate comes to an end at the end of 2018, and Adrianus Van Praag.
Participation of members in the 2017 elections:
Valid voting papers
Spoiled voting papers
Unfortunately the percentage of voters is still very low (23%) and is even lower than in 2016 (29%). The Committee hopes that this lowering of the percentage of voters is only temporary and that members will show their attachment to our GACEPA Association and its Committee by massively participating in the next elections in November 2018.
Annual General Meeting of the GAC-EPA (AGM)
At the time of writing, the AGM of 13 April 2018 had not taken place. It is being prepared by the Committee who will be sending out the invitation and Agenda to all members.
The AGM is the opportunity for many members to catch up with each other. For those who cannot be present they can follow the proceedings online and live by webcast. Several weeks later they will also receive the Minutes.
The AGM informs you about past and future activities of the Committee and in particular about the sensitive topics touching our social protection. During the Meeting the participants are asked to approve the Minutes of the previous AGM.
We also do not forget to pay hommage to the members who are no longer with us.
As usual the proceedings will be followed by a drink.
Please look at the Minutes of the latest AGM.
Relations with the Staff Associations (SA) of CERN and ESO
Our links to the SA come directly from our Statutes, of which the latest edition dates from October 2011 and came into force on 1 January 2012.
Any change in the SA Statutes leads to changes in our own Statutes. This must be envisaged in the short or medium term.
As an example, we should change in our Statutes the number of delegates to the SA Council. Our Statutes stipulate 9 delegates, whereas in reality there are only 7 on account of the lowering of the total number of delegates decided several years ago by the SA.
You can see our representation and activities in the various Commissions of the SA by consulting the previous Bulletins (52 and 53).
Relations with the CERN Administration
We have no doubt that the task of the CERN Administration is important: It has to manage all questions dealing with current staff and also sometimes those of retirees.
Our relations with the Administration aim that subjects relating to retirees should be correctly dealt with; in fact our links to CERN do not cease when we retire, and that means in particular the need to access the sites and to get essential information about matters relating to social protection.
As far as site access is concerned, the situation has been well clarified, but it is useful to make the following reminder.
Reminder: to avoid access difficulty to the CERN sites, make sure that you and your spouse (if relevant) have an access card in your name, and check that your vehicle is registered: the formalities are made at Building 55, on presentation of an identity document and the car papers.
Everyone who wishes to enter the CERN sites, on foot or with a vehicle, must be in possession of a valid access card in their name.
Access to the sites in a car is facilitated by automatic number plate recognition at the entrance, and since January 2017 it is no longer necessary to have a vignette for your vehicle.
In addition, one has to take into account a number of constraints:
it is possible to register several vehicles but in this case you must in advance give the registration details of the vehicle which you wish to use to enter, as only one vehicle per retiree is allowed on the site.
a handicapped person may enter with an accompanying person, but that person must also be in order by delivering a valid access card.
We have also raised with the Administration the questions of our access via computer to administrative documents, access to WIFI, and computer identity. The Administration has set up a “task force” (RACF) to resolve these issues but despite our urging, solutions have not yet been proposed to us.
Also, we have remarked to the Administration that many retirees do not have access to a computer or have stopped using one, and that nevertheless information concerning them should be sent by postal mail within a reasonable timescale.
Relations with the Governing Board of the Pension Fund (PFGB)
Reminder: In the PFGB, whose role is to Govern the Pension Fund, we have a representative : Michel Baboulaz, in post since January 1 2015.
The PFGB is assisted by the Investment Committee and the Actuarial and Technical Committee. All these have members nominated by the Councils and Directions of CERN and of ESO, as well as members representing the personnel nominated by the Staff Associations of CERN and of ESO, and GAC-EPA.
The working group set up by the CERN Council at the end of 2016 mandated to do a detailed study of the operation of the PFGB ceased its activity after a final meeting in May 2018; it submitted its report to Council which is now due to take a decision.
In contrast to 2016, the overall return in 2017 on the investments of the Pension Fund has been rather favourable; the return on investments in 2017 was 6.93%, well above the target of 3% above Geneva inflation (which was 1.2%).
The article by Michel Baboulaz on the Pension Fund will give you more information.
Relations with the CHIS Board
Reminder: The CHIS Board (CERN Health Insurance Scheme Committee) is the joint committee dealing with health insurance matters; his whose role is now to be consulted on a voluntary basis by CHIS (who administer the health insurance scheme). This Committee usually meets once a month, and our two delegates, Morna Robillard and David Jacobs are regular participants.
As indicated in the previous bulletin, the main subject of discussion at present since 2015 has been the revision of the CHIS regulations, whose principle was approved by the CERN Council in 2016. The new Regulations came into force on September 1, 2017.
The article on Health Insurance by Morna Robillard and David Jacobs gives further information.
Relations with current and future retirees
The various channels which are used to inform you have been described in previous bulletins which you may consult as necessary. Here is a brief reminder:
the Annual General Meeting - the most recent was held on April 13 2018.
the GAC-EPA semestrial Bulletin - it gives general information and complements the minutes of the AGM. We shall be sending you together the AGM minutes and the present Bulletin which completes the information on our activities in the last six months.
The public web-site of GAC-EPA contains much useful information for current and future retirees.
You may use the contact link to leave us a message to which we shall reply.
Of course, you may also write to us at the following address:
c/o Staff Association
CH - 1211 Geneva 23
Our “Information sessions” have been held since the start of 2017 0n the last Tuesday of each month, apart from July and December; three Committee members, René Barthélémy, Michel Boffard and Jean-Francois Michaud are there to listen to you and, as far as possible, to answer your questions.
The next Bulletin will appear at the end of November 2018.
Reports produced by the Fund administration, as well as those set up by the Actuary, indicate an improved financial situation of our Pensions Fund at end 2017. Here are the main figures (rounded) appearing in the 2017 annual statements submitted to the Governing Board:
total contributions (including 61.3 MCHF special contributions by CERN and ESO, and purchase of additional years of membership): 240 MCHF
total benefits paid (pensions, family allowances, transfer values): 323 MCHF
total administration and financial expenses: 8 MCHF
total net investment income (fees, transaction costs and taxation deducted): 290 MCHF
As a consequence, the net assets value increased from 4'060 MCHF at end 2016 to: 4'060 + 240 – 323 -8 + 290 = 4'259 MCHF at end 2017
This over simplified presentation is evidence that the contributions do not match the benefits (actually since 1998), making a high return on investments necessary.
Another consequence of the better return obtained this year is the improvement of the liabilities (future due benefits) funding ratio, from 72.5% end 2016 to 75.9% end 2017.
Calculated at +6.93%, the overall 2017 performance compensates for the low returns obtained in 2016, with 1.48% only.
The following February 2018 monthly investment performance report details the returns by month and by assets class:
Particularly notable in the Asset Class Performance table are the high returns on Equity and Private Equity in column 1Y as well as the good results of Real Estate. Of course the negative return rate for the month February 2018 means we may fear a weak global performance, below the 3% above Geneva inflation objective.
Investors and markets are sometimes influenced by irrational factors, which however may be measured by indices. CNN publishes such an index named «Fear and Greed»
Beneficiaries as at 2017-12-31
Strength numbers are shown at end 2016 and 2017 in the table below:
The total number of beneficiaries (retirement, invalidityand surviving spouse pensions) is almost constant.
But more active members have opted for a differed pension when leaving CERN or ESO. The decrease of the number of retirees aged below 65 is significant, it is seen as a consequence of the smaller number of staff members recruited before 1987-07-01 and entitled to an anticipated retirement with full pension.
When PRP (Progressive Retirement Programme) members are excluded, the beneficiaries total at end 2017 is : 3375 – 11 + 267 = 3631.
They are resident in 47 different countries, as listed in the table below:
The Health Insurance Scheme
Since November the CHIS Board has met every month except January.
An ongoing topic has been refinement of a draft document on the procedure for the recovery of undue payments – now hopefully reaching a conclusion.
Concerning the new declaration of spouse’s income (SHIPID form) it is important to keep in mind that complementary contributions are not new – only the income declaration form.
The two CHIS funds had a cumulated performance of 6% in 2017 (a very good return) but so far this year are slightly negative (about -1%).
It is recognised that improved informatics access to CERN (e.g. to submit forms in EDH) would simplify life for many pensioners but nothing can be expected before 2019.
The problems experienced with exemptions at the end of 2017 were largely resolved.
UNIQA Statistics for 2017
UNIQA reported the 2017 statistics to the CHIS Board in April.
The insured population with retired main member continued to drop – about 4900 compared with 5020 in 2012. The annual decrease will now accelerate as the peak population at age 80 is about twice that entering at age 66.
Nevertheless this population accounted for some 70% of reimbursements made. Of particular note is the 21% increase in reimbursements for Long Term Care.
Spending on the various headings for medical care was little changed from 2016, the most significant point being a decrease of about 26% in the amount reimbursed for public hospitals.
Analysis of the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) shows that they were fully respected by UNIQA and the quality of service met all contractual obligations.
Ready to get mould on your walls?
Do you have old photographic slides at home, capturing images from the 20th century in a 24x36mm plastic frame and requiring a projector to see them properly? If you have, and you are keen to keep them in good condition, check them out from time to time. Improper storage may well cause your memories to degrade. But this also means you may be sitting on a cache of unpredictable pieces of art, thanks to the creative helping hand of mould! This is what happened to dozens of CERN slides from the 1980s that were recently discovered in very poor condition on the site.
After some 30 years of slow degradation, the mould (bacteria) growing on the slides had slowly eaten away at the gelatine (proteins) on the surface. The slides were mostly copies of negatives dating from the time of LEP’s construction. While CERN was looking for matter at 10-18 m size, the 10-3 cm microorganisms were happily digesting our Organization’s photographic heritage!
Fortunately, the mould had attacked only a few hundred slides, in contrast to the 120,000 black and white and 300,000 colour photos that CERN has succeeded in preserving over the years. And a few of the mouldy slides have duplicates where the original image continues to exist unaffected.
The mould monsters likely came to life in damp conditions, and, through the transfer of enzymes to the surface of the slide, broke down the organic matter on its surface before absorbing the digested nutrients. Together with an abundant supply of slide film food, the mould spores had absolutely ideal conditions to successfully colonise the slides.
The resulting propagation seems as tricky to predict as cosmic particles crossing the earth and appears to be completely random! Colours and shapes in the original images have been altered in a chaotic way, while the underlying framework of the original photography has kept its design. The end result is a fascinating collision between physics, chemistry, biology and art.
So far, 25 of these slides have been digitised and printed and they form part of a growing image library known as the CERN “VolMeur Collection” (the name deriving from the surnames of the two members of CERN personnel who have been working on capturing these images in the context of the CERN Digital Memory Project).
The nascent collection was recently printed and exhibited at CERN, and there were many enquiries from people interested in purchasing mould for their walls! The CERN Digital Memory Project, working with the CERN Photo Club, is therefore offering an opportunity to purchase a limited number of these unique prints.
30 copies of each image will be printed by a professional laboratory in Geneva in either 40x60 or 60x80 cm sizes, with prices starting from 300CHF. The printing will be on Chromaluxe® aluminium sheets, using a process known as Subligraphie® which uses a special press that reaches a temperature of 200 degrees Celsius to melt the printing inks into the metal. The result is a longlasting, lightweight, fireproof, waterproof, scratchproof and UV-resistant print. No mould will attack these! The sale of these prints will allow the CERN Digital Memory Project to pay for the digitisation and printing of further similar slide images for the CERN VolMeur Collection, thereby expanding the image stock. This will allow CERN to create a unique exhibition resource for the Organization. The sale will open to the general public in two weeks’ time, but, prior to that, purchasing precedence is being given to CERN personnel and retirees who wish to place advance orders.
Following the receipt of the questionnaires launched in January by the “c2s Collectivity” we have noticed that many of you are still subject to social security contributions CSG-CRDS, either on your CERN pension or on your inheritance wealth (but more so on your income from rented property), or both.
If some of you cannot waive this obligation, because you contribute to the French social security, others who do not and who also do not receive a French pension, find themselves faced with this situation.
While some have followed the steps proposed by the “Collectivity” and have been reimbursed, others have not succeeded. We have also seen that some of you have not taken any steps to get reimbursed.
The following is a reminder of the steps to take if you are a first time member of your CERN pension.
Obtain proof of non-affiliation to the CPAM, either from the nearest CPAM office or branch or by calling 3646.
Obtain from CERN a certificate of affiliation to the CHIS. (See below for how to get it).
Once in possession of these two documents, go to to your local tax office to claim a refund.
For all those who were still subject to this tax in 2017 on their CERN pension or on their inheritance wealth, we recommend that you apply for a refund of the CSG - CRDS from the public treasury of your residence and if this is the case also ask for reimbursement for the years 2015 and 2016 in addition to that of 2017.
This is necessary in order to recover the sums paid over the last three years. It is clear that each year won by the public treasury is a year lost for you.
To this end we propose a standard letter on our web site, which should be personalized and sent to your tax office by registered letter with acknowledgment of reception. You can also obtain the letter writing us a request.
For those who have already requested the refund of the CSG, especially on the inheritance, the request will most certainly either result in a refusal for the unlucky ones, or a refund for the lucky ones! However, as mentioned above, it is important to take this step in order not to lose out on benefiting for a refund over the last 3 years in the case of a successful appeal to the Administrative Court.
It will also be necessary to provide:
A certificate of affiliation to the CHIS which you will be able to obtain from the following service: https://extranet.uniqa.net/extranet/login.jsf Identify and print your attestation. The contact persons are:
- Ioana Stoica: email@example.com tel +41227672967
- Laetitia Marie Luberda firstname.lastname@example.org tel +41227673854
Proof of “No Affiliation” to the French Social Security : tel 3646 (Ameli) or contact the CPAM office nearest you.
If you cannot obtain the proof of “No affiliation” you can, as a last resort, appeal to the conciliator of your local CPAM office who has access to the RNCPS (the national directory for social benefits) where they can check if you have ever used the French Social Security for reimbursements or other benefits.
To finish: In case of refusal of reimbursement by the public treasury, a letter for “contesting the decision” will have to be sent to the registry office of the Administrative Tribunal, which is mentioned on the rejection letter of your claim.
A model letter will be available upon request.
The spokesperson of the C2S,
Presence of GAC-EPA on the web
Our members use tablets and smartphones in ever greater numbers to access the net.
We work on a new version of the site that will better adapt to these devices without nevertheless requiring special manipulations. We hope to put it on-line around the new year.
We note in passing that “CERN has finally” (its own words) made a WiFi network available for visitors. Retirees may therefore now connect to the internet during their visit of CERN.