Morna Robillard, Susan Leech O'Neale, William Blair, Susan Maio, Michel Baboulaz, David Jacobs
Photo credits, tables: CERN, ESO, PFGB, CHIS, B. Ducret, G. Bossen
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.
The publication of our group’s 50th Bulletin is the opportunity to take a look backwards, to remind ourselves of what has happened since the issue 1 saw the day, and to learn any necessary lessons. And, thereafter, to look into the future with renewed energy. If you wish, you can consult the second half of the 50 issues on our web site; the first half has already been digitised and will soon be available there. Unfortunately we are lacking the issue 2 and I support our editor’s appeal to help us trace this missing issue. We are forced to recognise that some texts from the past are still relevant. For example, this extract from issue 6 (1994):
“Let us begin with the organization of the election of the new Committee,
…Five of the 15 members of the Committee did not wish to stand for reelection. Appeals for new candidates produced only four, and ten outgoing members stood again (…). The Committee proposed that twelve people should be elected for the period 1994 — 1996. This was confirmed at the Annual General Meeting (…).
All is therefore well, on the surface at least. For it must be noted that only the devotion of a few, already in office for six years, has enabled the work to continue. One can deplore that, out of the 840 members of GAC, only four new candidates have come forward. It is, alas, the fate of all associations depending on voluntary effort.”
I could not have more clearly formulated my preoccupations of today. Let us hope that at last, we too, may be able to write as in Bulletin number 13 (1996):
“As to GAC, a notable event is the renewal of its Committee, even more important this year as neither the Chairman nor the two Vice-Chairpersons are standing for reelection, no more than are the holders of certain other key posts. We had feared that our appeal for candidates would fall on deaf ears. Not so ! There wasn’t a deluge, but we had 14 candidates for 12 seats. You will be, as are we, entirely reassured by the membership of the new Committee and the distribution of its tasks, given in this Bulletin. … So the working continuity of the Committee is assured after a running-in period for the newcomers. In case of need many of the retiring members have expressed their willingness to give a helping hand.”
As for current news, the evolution of our social protection seems to be going towards less troubled waters which will permit your Committee to have more serenity in dealing with the relevant issues. This is already positive news in the present context, at a time when we are confronted by so many discouraging and depressing signals.
Let us remain vigilant and stick together, and let us together seek reasons to remain optimistic. And why not admire this magnificent almond tree (page3) which was in bloom next to my path in Germany (in the Palatinate region) at the end of March.
It has not escaped your notice that this bulletin is the 50th in a series which started in July 1990. The first issue appeared only in French because of time constraints at the time, but ever since the second number it has been in both official languages.
In the first editorial the person in charge of its publication listed the reasons for the existence of the association, specifying that it should:
“assist, by all possible means within its powers, the members of the Pension Fund in the difficultieswhichtheycouldencounter”!
“constitute the link between us all the retirees from CERN, our partners and/or widow(er)s, in order to arrange meetings for us and create opportunities to meet again former work colleagues”!
“to represent pensioners in the CERN Staff Association, and via the Association to make our voice heard by the relevant authorities.”
If we look through the various subsequent issues of the Bulletin (all soon to be available on the web site), it appears that the Bulletin has fully fulfilled its task, and that those responsible for it have carried out this mission with talent and conviction. May we here thank them for this. On our part, our editorial team will continue to be worthy successors of these craftsmen of the social link.
When the first issue appeared in July 1990, 466 of the 846 CERN pensioners were members of GAC-EPA, or 55%. Today 1775 of the 3642 CERN pensioners are members, or 48%.
The Bulletin remains the principal means of communication for those who have a real attachment to our group. It represents the social link connecting CERN pensioners via the Information sessions. It is the only method, apart from AGMs, of regularly conveying official information to members of GAC-EPA about events concerning our social security. It remains the favoured information channel about the condition of our Pension Fund and of our Health Insurance scheme.
I invite you to increase our membership by sharing this paper Bulletin with former colleagues, or even better by sending it by email to those who are not yet members of GAC-EPA, through lack of interest, or perhaps negligence or lack of information.
Long live this publication and our Group! And Happy Birthday to the Bulletin.
The number of ESO pensioners, although small compared the number at CERN, is expected to grow by about 10% per year over the next few years as a number of staff who joined ESO shortly after it moved to Munich in 1980 are now reaching retirement age. As customary, we held a New Year get together in Garching in January where we also able to welcome some of the new members to the retirees ‘club’. Once again we welcomed the participation of Gertjan Bossen at this event.
Cigna, ESO’s healthcare provider, plans to merge with Anthem, a major US health insurer. Cigna only recently took over Vanbreda the previous ESO healthcare provider. Although Cigna will be the junior partner in the new company, (Anthem currently only operates within the US) so we hope that the impact of the merger on our healthcare services and ESO’s good working relationship with Cigna will not change.
Cigna been struggling recently to respond to queries and process claims in due time. Cigna say they are trying hard to improve things but have been hampered by holidays, a high number of absences due to long term sickness and by having taken on quite a number of new trainees that are also affecting productivity.
Health Working Group
The ESO Health Working Group monitors the working of the ESO healthcare scheme from the staff side and provides feedback to the ESO Human Resources Department for improvements. It also acts as an additional point of contact for the beneficiaries. The previous Chairman, Dario Dorigo, has stepped down in December 2015. His position has been taken over by John Pritchard. Sandro D’Odorico remains the representative for the ESO retired staff.In the second half of 2015, the Health Working Group has achieved a number of improvements in the coverage, in particular relating to dental treatment and to optical lenses:
Since 1 January 2016 the unspent reimbursement ceiling for dental care from one calendar can be carried over to the following year. The ceiling is thus effectively doubled when spread over 2 consecutive years.
An extra pair of lenses will be also covered when there is a change of +/−1 dioptre within a calendar year.
The ESO Long Term Care (LTC) insurance scheme was established over 10 years ago and was based on the German Pflegeversicherung. Since that time the benefits have been unchanged although the German scheme has been improved. The Health Working Group therefore plans to review the LTC scheme in detail during the coming months with the aim of recommending improvements. The policy for laboratory tests will also reviewed.
As of 1 January 2016, the healthcare premiums for retired ESO staff have been reduced by 6% due to the current surplus in the medical reserve fund (i.e. we have been too healthy!). As I mentioned in the last Bulletin, ESO still refuses to contribute to the Stop-Loss insurance for retired staff as it does for active staff. Last autumn I renewed my request to the ESO Administration to contribute to the stop-loss premiums, this time on the basis of non-applicability of the ESO Healthcare Policy that was adopted in 2015 and updated last year. Even though the policy states clearly that contributions should not depend on age, the reply from the ESO Administration was again negative and merely repeating its old arguments without even mentioning its healthcare policy. Further discussion with the ESO Administration on this topic seems pointless. With the support of the ESO Staff Association we have therefore sought legal advice about the possibility of an appeal at the ATILO.
News in brief and activities of the Committee — (From November 2015 to April 2016)
The period was marked by a steady activity of the Committee interrupted by a festive break over the end of the year. This was necessary for a breathing space away from our personal and common preoccupations.
As before, the members of the Committee were vigilant towards all that touches the social protection of the pensioners and in particular the attacks on our rights concerning the Pension Fund, the impact of the new five-yearly revision on our Health Insurance, and the CSG and CRDS taxes that affect the pensions of certain pensioners living in France.
November is election month for the partial renewal of the Committee members and of the auditors. These subjects will be treated in the Bulletin and in this article. No doubt our editor will add some of his own information that will arouse our curiosity.
The secretariat is available for further details, use the contact form to write an e-mail to us
2015 election results, composition of the new Committee and attribution of functions
The current Committee (list on page 4 of the Bulletin) has been in place since 4 March 2016. It comes from the elections held at the end of November 2015 to renew 12 elected members whose mandates were to end on 31 December 2015. We had to elect 12 members of the Committee.
As mentioned in the previous Bulletin, after the call for candidates in August 2015, 14 candidates presented themselves of which 12 whose mandates were coming to an end. The counting of votes took place on 25 November 2015 and the 12 departing candidates were re-elected. The result of this election was as follows:
Valid voting papers
Spoiled voting papers
At its meeting on 4 December 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 2015.
However, for the Information Sessions, Gunilla Santiard resigned from this function since she is temporarily unavailable; for the same reason she also withdrew as delegate to the Staff Council of the Staff Association; she has been replaced in this function by Michel Boffard.
Also, the office «Social Security Collective» (CSG-CRDS) is held by Jean-François Michaud and Marc Goujon (not on the Committee); they are assisted by 2 advisors, Jean-Claude Gouache and Michel Vitasse.
You can see the composition of the Committee and the attribution of functions on page 3 of the Bulletin.
Since January 2016 the Committee consists of 21 elected members and one invited member (informatics expert). But we have to deplore the death on 2 February of our very dear colleague and friend Christian Roy; as a consequence the Committee has only 20 elected members.
In addition, at its meeting on 4 March 2016, the Committee decided to coopt Susan Leach O’Neale (for 2016) to reinforce the feminine and anglophone presence on the Committee.
Since the mandate of one of the auditors was coming to an end we also had to elect an auditor at these elections. Two candidates stood for election: the candidate whose mandate was coming to an end (Guy Salomon) and a new candidate (A. Van Praag); the latter was elected for 2016-2017 as per the following results:
Guy Salomon remained responsible for the 2015 accounts, with Ernst Radermacher (whose mandate ends at the end of 2016) .
Participation of members in the 2015 elections:
Valid voting papers
Spoiled voting papers
We deplore a new drop in the number of members taking part in the elections: just 23% (38% in 2012, 30% in 2014, 23% in 2016).
The Committee regrets this lack of motivation of more than 75% of the members and would request them to feel rather more concerned at the next elections.
GAC-EPA annual general meeting (AGM)
The AGM took place on 16 March 2016 following the invitation sent to members on 15 February 2016 accompanied by an agenda and a proxy vote.
The minutes of the 2016 AGM have been sent to you together with the present Bulletin.
We invite you to refer to the attached minutes for further information about the topics presented at this AGM.
Reminder: Please retain these minutes which we shall be asking you to approve at the next AGM which will be held at the end of March 2017 (date not yet fixed).
There was also an Informal Assembly on 25 November 2015 where many of you were present; you can still consult the presentations.
We presented there, amongst other subjects, the results of the 2015 elections (see above), the activities of the Social Security Collective (C2S) who are trying to solve the problems of the people being taxed under the CSG and CRDS regimes, and then J-P Matheys, responsible for CHIS in the HR department, gave some explanations about the Health Insurance and UNIQA, the manager of the scheme.
Gertjan Bossen, our President, also took stock of the situation of the Pension Fund and the Health Insurance.
This was rounded off with a friendly end-of-year drink.
Relations with the CERN and ESO staff Associations (SA)
Since the last Bulletin we have kept in close touch with the CERN SA in particular in order to comprehend the questions related to our social security.
This is done, essentially, by means of the meetings of the relevant SA Commissions, that is, the Staff Council, the Pensions Commission and the Social Security Commission and by common actions uniting active and retired staff, as related in our previous Bulletin.
We had to react since the pressure on our Pension Fund from the CERN Council was very strong. The Council indicating a revision of our acquired rights, of the 2010/2011 agreements, and even an attempt to overthrow the very principles of the functioning of our Fund.
Did our actions make the Council think again?
Whatever happened, at the moment the situation appears to be less critical since the report from the legal experts mandated by the Council is very circumspect as regards any possible changes to our Pension Fund system.
Nevertheless, we must remain extremely vigilant on this matter since the Council has not removed it from the agenda of its future meetings.
We also had to assess the impact of the new five-yearly review on the resources (contributions to) our Health Insurance since the total wage bill which is going down could bring about an imbalance between receipts and expenditure. The CERN Management having agreed that actuarial studies should be made on a regular basis from 2016 onwards, the Staff Council did not think it opportune to request any financial compensation at the moment; were there to be an imbalance, that would be the time to react. Our delegates to the Staff Council agreed with that.
Herewith a list of the GAC-EPA representation in the SA:
Staff Council: 7 delegates
Pensions Commission: 6 representatives
Social Security Commission: 2 representatives
Health and Safety Commission: 1 representative
Legal Commission: 1 representative
Mutual Aid Fund: 1 representative and 1 replacement
Reminder: In order to avoid difficulties in accessing the CERN sites, check the validity of your (and, if relevant your spouse’s) personal access card and of your car’s sticker: the formalities for these documents are made at Building 55, on presentation of an identity document and the vehicle papers. For a few months now access to the sites by car has been facilitated by the automatic reading of number plates at the gates. Obviously this means that you have been to Building 55 for the formalities, and that you have your access card and the car’s annual sticker as indicated above. The guards may still carry out checks and you are required to comply.
As announced in the previous Bulletin, Operational Circular No. 2 (second revision) “Conditions of access to the fenced part of the CERN sites” came into force on 1 September 2014 but some problems in applying this still remain such as:
Access to this circular by pensioners
Dogs are not admitted
Only one car per pensioner.
We are maintaining contact with (and pressure on) the HR and IT departments of CERN so that pensioners can have access to administrative documents that concern them, (almost) as do active staff. It is not so easy, even though our President has had contact with the current Director of Administration as with the previous one.
A seminar on preparing for retirement was held on 24 November 2015; GAC-EPA, in the person of its President and two Committee members, took part to introduce the Group to future pensioners.
Relations with the Governing Board of the Pension Fund (PFGB)
We have one representative on the PFGB, the role of which is the governance of the Pension Fund: this is Michel Baboulaz, in post since 1 January 2015.
The PFGB is aided by the Investment Committee and the Actuarial Committee.
All these entities are made up of members appointed by the Councils and Managements of CERN and ESO as well as of members representing the Staff Associations of CERN and ESO and the GAC-EPA.
During 2015, we heard that a working group was being created to make an in-depth study of the governance of the Pension Fund. What are the intentions of the CERN Council?
Along with the SA we must remain extremely attentive to the composition of this working group and to the recommendations that it might formulate, in particular about the composition of the PFGB and its Committees, so that the representation of the personnel is always guaranteed.
Buck Consultant, the Pension Fund’s actuary, presented the parameters that will serve as a basis for the 2016 actuarial study. According to these parameters the coverage of the Fund in 2041 will be 104.6%; of course this is just a study depending on many factors and on an indicative forecast; bad results for these investments could be an unfavourable factor.
Nevertheless, the global return of the Fund in 2015 was 3.91%, well above the requirements taking into account the negative inflation.
The CHIS Board is the joint instance on questions concerning health insurance and whose role is now consultative at the discretion of the CHIS (administering the health insurance); this Committee meets in principle once per month; our two delegates, Morna Robillard and David Jacobs, take part regularly.
In 2015, several subjects occupied the CHIS Board including:
The new contract of the manager of health insurance
The revision of the CHIS Rules
The possibilty for treatments for contraception, sterilisation and fertility.
We keep in contact with our members and inform them in several ways:
Two Meetings, one informal on 23 November 2015, the other (AGM) official and recent on 16 March 2016, were held; they allowed us to present the situation on social protection, in particular. Of course these gatherings only bring together physically a small part of our members, between 200 and 300 on average; it is understandable that for various reasons some of you cannot be present.
Our AGM can be seen on a Webcast; this allows those with Internet to watch live or to watch later. This AGM, where it is possible to be represented via a proxy vote, is followed up by official minutes sent to all members. At the following year’s AGM you are asked to approve these minutes.
Twice a year in Spring and Autumn we publish a Bulletin in which we inform you of our actions during the year by means of various articles where each author, based on his/her function in the Committee and personal sensibility, keeps you informed of the situation on questions of interest to pensioners.
The minutes of the AGM and the Bulletin are sent personally to your physical postal address or, for those who have so requested, to their e-mail address.
You can also find these documents on our public website; there you will also find information and announcements concerning our association and pensioners in general.
This site contains a contact link through which you can leave a message that we will reply to.
You can also contact us at the following address:
p/a Association du Personnel CERN
CH — 1211 Genève 23
Those who wish to can also come to our Information Sessions which are held on the first Tuesday of each month except in January, July and August. Three members of the Committee, René Barthélémy, Michel Boffard and Jean-François Michaud are there to listen and to the best of their ability answer your questions.
Last November, after the informal meeting, we were glad to find many of you at the end-of-year drink.
As in 2015, Staff Association cards are available at the Staff Association secretariat for those who have so requested.
And finally an observation:
The GAC-EPA association, which works hard to defend the interests of pensioners, currently has 1768 members; the total number of pensioners of CERN and ESO is 3576 (at 29.02.2016); many pensioners are thus not members of our association; we would like to incite those who have not yet joined us to think about it since if our actions benefit members they also benefit non-members. The members who receive the Bulletin are asked to talk about it to non-members and invite them to get to know us better (e.g. via this site) and join us.
The greater the number of members, the greater will be our influence in the defence of our interests.
Looking forward to the next Bulletin
End of November 2016
The Pension Fund investments produced a positive result in 2015. The performance reached +3.91%, while the Geneva price index went down by 0.7%. The return objective of 3% above inflation was therefore exceeded, a reassuring fact for members and beneficiaries as well as for Member States. But the tables page 15 show a negative trend in the beginning of 2016: by end March 2016, the performance was −1.7%.
Funding ratio at a given date
The calculation of this simple ratio: assets / liabilities is not so simple.
Assets at a given date are the sum of the remaining net asset plus received interests and contributions. Liabilities at the same date are the pensions due to current and future beneficiaries.
All future amounts are evaluated at the chosen date using a Discount rate.
The CERN Council is expecting at its June meeting 15 the data prepared by the Actuary to the Fund on the basis of the 1st January 2016 population of members and beneficiaries. Council will take a very close look at the current (1-1-2016) and future (1-1-2041) funding levels of the Fund. Why so ?
End 2004 — the Fund experiences a deficit. Council decides that the 3 stakeholders, namely the Organisation, the members, and the beneficiaries, should contribute to restore the balance of the Fund.
End 2005 — Council approves a number of measures (contributions increase, no pensions indexation) for 2006, it asks for a comparative study with other pension funds and starts a review of the Rules and Regulations of the Fund. It also asks for an actuarial review every 3 years.
End 2006 — the Actuary evaluates the most likely funding level to be: 101.0% at 1-1-2006, and 104.7% at 1-1-2007.
End 2007 — a new governance of the Fund is in place and the IPSAS accounting rules are adopted. Council states the principle that the Fund must be totally funded (ratio >>= 100%).
During 2008 — a working group named WG2 is set up with the objective of proposing any measures enabling the return to full funding.
End 2010 — a package of measures towards restoring full funding is adopted by the Council, notably including special contributions to be paid by CERN and ESO. At that time the funding ratio is evaluated as 69.4% at 31-12-2010 and as 111.8% at 1-1-2041.
End 2011 — the EVK2000 mortality tables are replaced by the generational VZ2010 tables, the funding ratio is calculated as 63.5% at 31-12-2011.
End 2012 — a new Actuary begins. They evaluate the funding ratio at 31-12-2012 as 66.1%. Measures that reduce the benefits for new recruits enter into force.
End 2013 — the periodic (triennial) actuarial review is made with a 85% reduction factor applied to the VZ2010 mortality tables, it calculates the funding ratio as 65,7% at 1-1-2013 and as 69,1% at 1-1- 2041. Following some corrections, the Actuary revises his results as 66.6% and 74.8%.
These results showing a downward move of the 1-1-2041 funding level from 111.8% to 74.8% trigger the fear of a new under-funding of the Fund. Member States delegations immediately ask for explanations and studies of radical measures aiming at members and beneficiaries with a view to restore the full funding of the Fund. External experts are mandated, they provide the explanations and the technical and legal studies.
The 2016 periodic actuarial review is under way. The assumptions to be used were proposed by the Actuary to the Fund (Buck Consultants) and the Risk consultant (Ortec Finance). They have been debated by the Pension Fund Governing Board before being adopted. The Actuary has built a revised projection model of the CERN and ESO members which is more complex than the old one but much more precise and close to the current employment contracts in force. One therefore expects quite different results from the 2013 ones.
The Health Insurance Scheme
Since autumn the CHIS Board has met four times (October, November, January and March). Its own workload has been relatively light although a working group on para-maternité of which Morna Robillard is a member was set up last summer and has been very active, resulting in the new CHIS cover announced in March for contraception and sterilisation. The more complex issue of treatment for sterility remains under discussion.
The Board was told that progress with the revision of the CHIS Rules by CERN Management has been slow. A draft for discussion is promised before mid-year.
The CHIS accounts for 2015 have not yet been finalised but there is no indication of any significant imbalance. At this time the effect on CHIS of the last five-yearly review is judged to be minor but the situation will be closely watched.
The performance of the CHIS reserve fund, invested with two banks, is better than at the same time last year but remains poor at about −1% due to the continued weakness of the financial markets.
Tariffs of approved providers remain relatively stable with respect to 2015.
New approval — Clinique La Métairie, specialised in psychiatry (2015-16).
CERN is not actively seeking more new approval agreements for the moment.
In future CERN will attempt to renew existing agreements for two years (rather than one). This has already been done for 2016-17 with Clinique Générale-Beaulieu (Hirslanden) and Clinique Bois-Bougy.
CHIS statistics for 2015
UNIQA has presented CHIS statistics for 2015, expanded under the terms of the new contract which came into force at the beginning of that year.
It is interesting to note that the retired CHIS population sank back to 4’953, only slightly more than in 2010, having been higher in the intervening years. Only 8% of this population live outside France and Switzerland. The active CHIS population rose by 1’031 in the same period.
In most respects the year was relatively unchanged from 2014 —figures in brackets—. UNIQA dealt with approximately 75’000 claims (76’000) for a total amount of 76.9MCHF, only 1.9% up on 2014.
80% of reimbursements concerned treatment in Switzerland (+4.9%), 15% France (−14.1%) and 5% other countries (16.4%). The decrease for France is probably due to the shortage of local doctors and hospitals, while the increase for other countries results from a few serious cases. 5.98MCHF was paid in LTC allowances to 294 members (268) with 222 in care at the end of the year (215).
News from UNIQA
UNIQA report that their Web portal is well used. In 2015 CHIS members each logged-on an average of 8.4 times, mainly (2/3) to check their account status.
UNIQA Assurances SA is being restructured. UNIQA GlobalCare will look after contracts such as CHIS, in which UNIQA carries no risk itself. The other part will handle contracts in which UNIQA carries the risk and sell insurance in Switzerland as the Swiss branch of UNIQA Liechtenstein. Mme Burcher remains in charge and CHIS members will not see any change. The help desk at CERN is maintained.
On 9 March UNIQA moved to computer-based processing of all CHIS claims (last paper-based processing was on 18 March). As before, claims must be submitted on paper, with supporting documents, but are immediately scanned on reception. UNIQA reports good acceptance of the new claim form, introduced at the end of last year. Full instructions for using the form appear on its second page.
Your claim will be processed more rapidly if you fill in at least your CHIS ID on a computer as this information is then added to the barcode at the foot of the form. Note: use Adobe Acrobat (free download) as many other programs, including in-browser displays, do not conform to the standards and will not change the bar code.
Another simplification to appear by mid-year will be the payment of claims directly from a CERN account, rather than transiting via a UNIQA account.
This may be a repetition of what you read in the Minutes of the last AGM but the Information Sessions were held regularly by Messrs. Rene Barthelemy, Michel Boffard and Jean-Francois Michaud.
Each year the team welcomes pensioners every first Tuesday of the month in the Staff Association conference room, building 64/R-010, except in January, July and August, see the calendar.
Again this year the subjects that came round most often were:
Declaration of bank accounts abroad.
Problems related to Health Insurance, especially concerning reimbursements.
How to fill out the Income Tax form…
Problems accessing the CERN site…
Same as last year, the French tax problem and the liability to pay CSG and CRDS taxes was often on the agenda. We took advice from, and worked alongside the C2S group (see elsewhere in this Bulletin). Team members were able to give information which they were aware of and to advise on how to proceed.
Each year the team do their best to answer your questions and sometimes we have to re-direct you to those more competent than ourselves or to other services.
In general, the exchange of information at these sessions is very friendly and occasionally the experiences of some bring answers for others: it is always a most enriching experience for us. Sometimes, a few of you just enjoy a good chat about old times and, when it is not busy and time permits, we, of course, lend an ear to you.
This section is reserved for you. We want to present the exploits of our enthusiastic retirees. There is life after CERN, and for many it is rich in achievements. It is these activities that we wish to present to you with our Reports column. We go into the field to visit those who want to talk to us about the passions of their retired life.
A collector, again
CERN Memory Power
Recently I visited a long-standing friend whom I had made acquaintance with in the CERN guides unit and whose love of CERN was well-known to me. I met him at his home in Dieulefit, a charming village in the Drome in France where Jean Collombet has harboured a collection of items in his southern abode and of which many had already spoken to me about.
You will have guessed that Jean is a retiree-collector and the second one to appear in these pages. He has built up over time a formidable array of material used in the last century and connected with his two passions in life, the world of cinema and that of physics.
For instance, he has over sixty film projectors which are carefully stored and exhibited in his garage along with an unbelievable collection of spare parts and manuals to explain repairs and maintenance, all in boxes. The apparatus come from such unlikely places as Russia, the USA and England, witness of an era long since forgotten by today’s “connected” contemporaries.They range from the oldest elementary projectors of the Melies period, to the most sophisticated and professional xenon apparatus attached to a tall stand support.
On the other hand, in his house the rooms are decorated with an incredible number of objects used for physics research such as high-powered valves, scintillators, particle detectors and laboratory measurement equipment. Some have been transformed into decorative lighting such as standard lamps or exhibited in showcases. Thus, over the years, Jean has saved from destruction and oblivion some priceless objects which many a museum would be proud to own.
Each object has a story behind it and there is no end to Jean’s anecdotes. Through his professional qualification as a mechanic and his activity in the Communications Unit with outside contacts (exhibitions, guide, public relations with official authorities) Jean explained such appartus to the public and thereby met many an important scientific personality. In spite of himself he became one of the last-remaining persons to be apt to speak about CERN and its technical evolution. He never tires of speaking about the development of the laboratory, the scientific discoveries and awards which have made it so well known. He is faithful to the great CERN family, in particular to those who actually built it up.
There still exists at CERN a place where there are various laboratory “antiques” just waiting to be put together with the unique objects that Jean has saved from oblivion. Last year a call went out to preserve these items in a possible Museum of Technology at CERN. Is CERN ready to exhibit such items to the public? In 1994 Jean had already initiated and made a start on the project with the agreement of the then Director-General. But, on retirement in 1995, his idea was not followed up. The message in a bottle has been flung again into the sea of ideas, on which shore will it be washed up…
I wish all of you a retirement as bright and varied as that of Jean.
Recruited by CERN in May 1962, Jean retired in December 1995. He spends his time as a “young” pensioner between his home in Thoiry which allows him to continue being a CERN guide and meet his colleagues often, and his winter retreat in the Drome. He has invested his time more and more in Dieulefit with activities in the theatre, organizing conferences and cycling many miles, as well as gardening.
Michaud Jean-François (spokesman) Goujon Marc (active member)
Advisors: Vitasse Michel, Gouache Jean-Claude
Created in 2014, this group was created for newly retired pensioners subjected to the CSG and the CRDS taxes on their CERN pension to help them with the procedures with the French tax authorities and to defend their interests.
Last year the following information was given in Bulletin no. 49:
“This tax only applies to persons who are not registered with the CPAM of the French Social Security system.
As far as the reimbursement of the CSG/CRDS taxes levied on CERN pensions goes, the c2s Collectivity decided to consult a lawyer to sort out the matter. This initiative was announced at the last General Assembly.
A model case has been filed with the lawyer, Maitre G. Teissier in Annemasse, and is representative of several similar cases. Two further cases have been filed since and are being examined.
The cases concern:
being a beneficiary of a French retirement pension
owning a ‘Vitale’ card.
never having used this ‘Vitale’ card.
having been taxed for CSG/CRDS on one’s CERN retirement pension.
not having been able to get reimbursed for want of not being able to obtain proof of non-affiliation to the CPAM of the French Social Security system.
being a beneficiary of CHIS.”
But where are we now?
Each case entails an investment of around € 1,600 just to begin proceedings. The GAC-EPA has decided to retain, for the time being, only one file that we hope will set a precedent for others. The other cases, mostly with similar issues, could possibly be settled at the same time. Here is the latest news from the lawyer:
“Concerning the current case, I am waiting for the rejection of my request in order to put it before the Amiable Appeal Commission which should also reject it.
So I am preparing, here and now, the conclusions which I will present to the TASS and which I will submit to you for comments and/or approval.”
As you know, it will take time, lots of time, to arrive at a conclusion. Let us remain optimistic. Let us note as well that the collective will always help people who are newly affected by this subjugation, as every year the tax department comes up with new faces. It resembles Russian roulette, who will be next? So we will do the same for newcomers, informal appeals, proof, etc.
This year also brings a new topic, the subjugation of people to CSG tax on inheritance. Although the GAC-EPA does not wish to get involved in this issue, the collectivity can give information as to how to proceed. Here again each appeal has to be made individually through a lawyer as a group application is not possible in France at the moment. The collectivity can provide a list of individuals concerned so that they can consult and possibly take communal concerted action. The collective can always be contacted via the contact form.
Past Issues of the Bulletin
Digitized copies of all past issues of the bulletin will soon be available on our site
However… The Editorial team is looking for the number 2 Bulletin to complete its collection.
Who can give it to us?
If you own a copy of Bulletin 2, please send it to us at our postal address, so that we can scan it. We will then return it to you. Thanks in advance!