GAC-EPA — Groupement des Anciens du CERN-ESO Pensioners' Association

Bulletin 61

Autumn 2021

Colophon

pdf version

 

Message from the President

Enrico CHIAVERI

First of all, in this extremely delicate period, I would like to wish you health, serenity and peace for you and your families.

The work of the Committee, carried out under difficult conditions, has continued with the same commitment and efficiency and, above all, with the same deep motivation. In collaboration with the Staff Association, we have been able to solve a number of problems.

In the previous newsletter, I had the opportunity to underline that, thanks to our action, we were able we were able to influence the necessary change in the staffing of the Pension Fund.The first contact with the new administrator was very positive and I hope that the dialogue continue in the same spirit.

Nevertheless, we must remain cautious; indeed, the question arises: are we heading for another endangerment of the Pension Fund? As prevention is better than cure, I invite you to read the article I signed and the position of the Staff Association on this subject. Of course, we will not hesitate to mobilize you if necessary.

Still on the subject of the pension fund, our commitment has made the acquisition, in case of marriage after retirement, of a surviving spouse’s pension possible; this is a definite step forward, even if, in this case, the Organization refuses to pay its share of the health insurance contribution for future surviving spouses.

Also, the work of the working group on pension guarantees in case of dissolution of the of the Organization has continued. I am personally convinced that this work must be completed quickly to ensure a sustainable future for our pension fund.

Within the CHISB, our presence has always been decisive in helping the Board to define, even more so in these difficult times, the best choices for all members of the health insurance care system.

A fantastic job has been done by the Social Security Committee (C2S). Let’s hope that this success will not be short-lived because, as you know, national tax systems are always very imaginative.

With regard to the ESO representative, I would like to emphasize his constant participation on the work of the Committee.  This is very much appreciated by our Association.

Our end of year party could not be organized because of the sanitary constraints in force, believe I deeply regret it!  I hope at least that we will be able to plan a meeting in the first months of 2022.

Finally, I would like to emphasize that the work and role of the GAC-EPA continues to be critical in the various activities that are extremely important to CERN and ESO. We will continue our efforts, even under particularly complex conditions.

Once again, I sincerely thank all the members of the GAC-EPA committee for their continued commitment and expertise.

You will find more detailed information in this Bulletin.

Your President, Enrico Chiaveri

 

Editorial

Bernard DUCRET

Dear Reader Friends

In this issue 61, you will find your usual columns, with the addition of

The text entitled “Will the Pension Fund be put at risk again?” is very important. An attempt by one delegation to get away from their obligations in terms of funding means that the Group and the Staff Association are on their guard: this document is a reminder of everyone’s commitments. By drawing your attention to this point, I invite you to remain vigilant and to listen to your representatives for a possible future mobilisation.

For those concerned by C2S, please take note of the appeal and come forward as soon as possible.

Another point: this issue 61 is the last one that I am putting on the page for the GAC-EPA. I need to take a rest and step back from the situation we have been experiencing for almost two years now. I have asked our President and the Committee to allow me to take a break for at least two years for personal reasons; they have agreed and I thank them for that.

For the next few issues, our President has been looking for a new person to succeed me in this position. Marcel Aymon has agreed to coordinate all the usual contributors to the implementation of the Bulletin. He has accepted this responsibility in order to be able to continue to inform you, starting with the next issue.

As we go to press, the proposal to entrust the layout of our newsletter to a professional graphic designer is under discussion. A further question has arisen which will be put to the committee: do we continue with the layout in its present form or do we entrust it with the task of creating a new, more professional layout?

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude for the exchanges we have had through this Bulletin. I am proud that I have been able to take the task of editor as seriously as possible, with a motivated and responsive team, while bearing in mind that perfection is not in this world. I hope to be able to return to the committee after my leave of absence, and of course I remain a member of the GAC-EPA.

Goodbye, with all my friendship

Bernard

 

ESO Matters

Erik ALLAERT

ESO and COVID-19

ESO is of course like all other organisations and enterprises affected by COVID-19 pandemic and the various measures imposed by most countries. The ESO Garching headquarters have been in the so-called Phase 3 (voluntary attendance, with limits) over most of the summer. They moved to Phase 4 (half-time on-site attendance) in early September, and according to the current plans this will last till the end of 2021. The situation in the Vitacura offices is similar. This implies for both sites that retirees still do not have access, and at this stage it is not clear when these access restrictions will be lifted.

Voluntary activities of ESO retired staff and Emeritus guidelines

End of July ESO HR released two documents: “Guidelines on the management of voluntary activities of ESO retired staff” (new) and “Guidelines on the management of Emeriti” (revised). We appreciate of course the existence of a well-defined framework for retirees to still contribute to ESO. However, we regret that – once again – ESO did not involve the pensioners directly, on guidelines that have been initiated by, and deal exclusively with, ESO retirees. It is unfortunate that ESO did not take advantage of the cooperation offered by us at several occasions to correct/improve these documents. That would not only have boosted the accuracy and relevance of these documents, but would also have been a good opportunity to enforce a good working relationship between ESO management and the ESO pensioners. These concerns have been raised to ESO HR, so hopefully we can improve on that in the near future.

Healthcare

The first meeting of the new ESO Health Insurance Scheme Board (EHISB) took place on 19 July 2021. This was basically an introductory meeting at which the main point on the agenda was a review of the current ESO healthcare costs and status of the reserve fund. No decisions were minuted.

The Health Working Group (WHG) held a meeting on 1 September. The main point of discussion was the feedback from Cigna relating to previous HWG recommendations for more frequent cancer tests or coverage of DNA tests in cases where there is a congenital likelihood of increased risk. Cigna has often refused this in the past or have requested a complete medical dossier to assess individual risk in a very obscure manner. There are several new proposals now being discussed both at ESO and by Cigna to improve this situation. This subject will be brought up again at the coming ESO-Cigna meeting, to lead hopefully to improved benefits or a more transparent procedure in 2022.

Cigna has received bad marks recently for two cases of administrative incompetence. In one case, a confidential renewal letter from one beneficiary was sent to the wrong person. In a second case after an emergency operation of an ESO pensioner during a vacation, Cigna only belatedly provided a guarantee of payment after repeated emails and telephone calls, and in the end, made a payment to the financial body dealing with billing without any reference to either the name of the patient nor the invoice number. For both these cases, ESO has requested a written explanation from Cigna on what went wrong and what measures are being introduced to prevent such events in future.

ESO International Staff Association

The International Staff Association Committee is still working on some corrections and modifications of its new draft statutes, after receiving feedback from the DG’s office and also us. In the meantime, there has also been a changeover of Staff Committees, both in Chile and Garching, per 1 October. Attentive readers of previous GAC-EPA newsletters may remember that one of the proposed modifications in these statutes is to have ESO’s GAC-EPA members automatically become members of the Staff Association. However, we have strong reservations about the definition of “Retired Members” in the current draft. We’ve had several meetings and exchanges with the previous and new ESO Staff Committees on this statutes topic, and we hope to reach an agreement in the coming weeks.

Erik Allaert

 

Pension Fund

Philippe Charpentier

This year 2021 is the year of the preparation of the triennial actuarial review of the Pension Fund which will be available in early spring 2022. As a reminder, this review is carried out by a specialised British company (Buck), which also provides quarterly reports on the performance of the pension fund (called “dashboards”).

The dashboards present the current situation of the different portfolios as well as a projection of the overall evolution of the fund until 2041, based on the actuarial parameters used in the previous triennial review. The last dashboard presented is for 1 July 2021. At that date the fund’s performance over the year 2021 was 3.28% while inflation in Geneva was 0.7%, which is a remarkable performance.

The graph below shows the projected coverage rate of the fund as established on 1 July. Let’s recall that the coverage rate is the ratio between the fund’s assets at a given moment and the amount that would be necessary to ensure the payment of the pension of all members and beneficiaries until the last survivor (the fund’s liabilities).

Coverage

It should be noted that the evolution of the Fund’s assets includes the annual payments made by the two organisations as part of the 2011 package of measures designed to ensure the Fund’s recovery (i.e. CHF 60 million for CERN and CHF 1.4 million for ESO).

We can see that the evolution of the projections since 2019 is going in the right direction, but we must remember that these are only projections, based on the actuarial parameters used in 2019. In terms of financial performance, these projections must be taken with caution, as we are not immune to reversals in the economic situation.

This good performance of the pension fund is the result of a constant effort by the fund’s investors, which is not without a certain amount of risk-taking. However, this is limited and monitored by an external body (Ortec-finances) which reports to the Fund’s Governing Board. If the risk becomes too large, the investors change the allocation of funds between the different portfolios, typically by reducing the riskiest part (usually equities). Conversely, if the estimated risk is lower, they may invest in riskier portfolios.

The graph below shows that the actual performance of the fund (blue curve) since 2011 is much better than the one anticipated and used during the 2019 actuarial review (black curve) :

PFreturn

Throughout 2021, in preparation for the triennial actuarial review in 2022, the actuary is reviewing all the parameters that will be used in this review. There are indeed a very large number of parameters to be taken into account, including, but not limited to: the mortality rate (adapted to the population of our fund), the characteristics of the families (percentage of members with spouses, age difference between spouses, number of children, etc.), the number of members leaving the fund (during or at the end of their contract), the number of people receiving a disability pension, the recruitment policy of the organisations, etc.... All these parameters are different between the two organisations (CERN and ESO).

But the parameter that plays the most important role is obviously the return on investment, which is of course the most difficult to predict. The assumption made for this new actuarial review is an overall returnoninvestmentof3.7%withaninflationrateof 1.1% every year until 2041.

All these parameters have now been presented to and accepted by the Governing Board. On 1st January 2022, the actuary will use the actual data (fund situation, populations of members and beneficiaries) to obtain a projection of the fund’s coverage rate until 2041 that will be presented in March 2022.

In the spring of 2021, the Governing Board of the fund has set up three working groups on the following topics:

These three working groups will give their recommendations to the Governing Board in November 2021.

While at the beginning of 2021 a large part of the Fund Governing Board was renewed, this year also saw the replacement of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Fund: Mr. Matthew Eyton-Jones gave way to another British person, Mr. Doug Heron, who took up his duties on 1 August 2021.

Philippe Charpentier

Reminder

Pay attention, please:

Our treasurer reminds you that the annual subscription is :

30CHF

She ask you to favour paying it by standing order via the bank, and reminds you also that paying your subscription by a postal order

costs money to the association.

 

The Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS)

David Jacobs

The CHIS Board has continued to meet monthly as planned. The May, June, September and October meetings have followed the normal agenda pattern. The Board was asked to give its opinion on the likely financial impact on CHIS of a remodeling of CERN’s program for associated members of personnel under consideration by Management.

At a dedicated meeting in July the Board heard a presentation of the existing proposals and an actuarial assessment. After reflection another exceptional meeting was called in August to discuss the proposals. As a result, a unanimously critical response was addressed to the president of the CCP (Comité de Concertation Permanent). The Board was subsequently relieved to learn that the matter had been deferred at least until end 2022 to allow time for further consideration.

In view of the COVID-19 situation, all meetings have been video conferences.

Please remember that the Web site https://hse.cern/covid-19-information provides regularly updated information on the COVID-19 pandemic. Note in particular that CERN now offers vaccination for those who are French or have French residence – read the appointment procedure to follow.

CHIS has for long had a special agreement with Hopital la Tour on charging. Since 2011 however the Swiss authorities have been pressing for a more uniform charging base in hospitals across the country under the name “diagnosis related grouping” (SwissDRG). Working from this base, the actual amounts charged by individual hospitals is a matter of negotiation between the health insurers (UNIQA in our case) and the institution concerned. The negotiation between Hopital la Tour and UNIQA has yet to converge. For now, the present agreement has been extended but, were it to be terminated, the lack of agreement on SwissDRG tariffication could be problematic.

Following the agreement of Hopital la Tour to reimburse to CHIS the 1.6 MCHF overcharged on small items in recent years, a first installment has been received.

A new agreement has been signed with Vision Future Suisse SA who offer packages for cataract and refractive surgery.

The PCC working group on the guarantee of pensions in the case of dissolution of the Organization recognized quickly that the same issue exists for health insurance. Work continues urgently with a view to getting satisfactory amendments to the CHIS Rules approved by Council early in 2022.

Concerning the Reserve fund, the change in management arrangements reported in the last Bulletin appears to have paid off. After the low weighted 2021 global return to end February of -0.21% reported in the last Bulletin, the overall figure to end-July had risen to 3.25%.

While considering the uptake of online reimbursement claims (myUNIQA) to be successful, UNIQA continues to make upgrades and some GAC members are clearly still experiencing problems. Do not hesitate to report any such problems to UNIQA to aid their resolution (contact@uniqa.ch). To help with feedback, a survey is being made in October on the App and Portal.

The Board remains aware of the need to settle the attitude of CHIS towards alternative therapies but has yet to discuss the matter.

The UNIQA office in downtown Geneva moved as planned to a new address:

Avenue de la Praille 26
Case postale 1431
1227 Carouge
Genève

The office is now open to the public.

Morna and David

C2S

Jean-Francois MICHAUD

(the announcement is only available in French, as it only concerns interaction with the French tax authorities)

Information Sessions

Jean-Francois MICHAUD

After an interruption of almost two years, the PERMANENCE commission has just resumed its functions normally.

We will receive you in the PA meeting room between 13:30 and 16:00 on the dates indicated on the GAC-EPA website.

If you receive the Echo in time, there will be an announcement in it to warn you.

Addresses

Pay attention, again:

We receive paper Bulletins back that did not reach to their addressees;  most of them are returned due to an incorrect address.

The editorial staff asks these recipients to contact the Secretariat in order to update our mailing list

 

Obituary

For the list of deceased beneficiairies of the Pension Fund consult the list of deaths.

If you wish to write a word of sympathy to the bereaved family you can send it via the CERN Pension Fund, which has their address but is not authorised to give it to third parties.

 

The 2021 Annual General Meeting

In view of the health situation in the Spring of 2021, the GAC-EPA Committee decided to hold an Annual General Meeting by correspondence. On 20 May 2021, a letter was sent to some 1720 members asking them to exercise their right to vote.

Seven items — approval of the minutes of the 2020 AGM, activity report 2020-2021, treasurer’s and auditors’ reports, list of scrutineers — were put to the vote.

Responses were expected by 16 July 2021 at the latest.

Despite a higher number of responses, only 205 votes could be taken into account.

The results of the votes show a very broad approval of the submitted documents — more than 98% of the votes cast.

The GAC-EPA Committee hopes to be able to hold the next Annual General Meeting in Spring 2022 in the presence of the members.

The minutes of the 2021 AGM are available.  A hard copy of the minutes can be made available on request.

 

Will the Pension Fund be put at risk again?

Enrico CHIAVERI

Following the 2008 financial market crash, the CERN Council adopted a balanced package of measures which formally committed staff, pensioners and the Organisation to contribute together to achieve a balanced Pension Fund by 2041. According to our information, at least one Member State delegation is now questioning the interest of continuing to meet its part of the commitment. This would be completely unacceptable and would lead at least to an immediate mobilisation of the pensioners.

The genesis of the 2010 balanced package :

Let us recall the main parameters of these measures:

  1. Contribution for members recruited before 2012: increase from 30.88% to 34% (1/3 staff, 2/3 Organisation);
  2. Beneficiaries’ benefits: without cost of living adjustment up to a cumulative individual loss of purchasing power of 8%*;
  3. Special contributions from the Organisations: CERN: 60MCHF/year; ESO: 1,3 MCHF/year;
  4. New pension conditions for members recruited from 2012: retirement age 67; contributions 31.6% (40% staff, 60% Organisation).

A resolution formally binds the CERN Council!

At the same time as the Council decided on this package of measures, it adopted the Resolution on the restoration of full funding (CERN/2972, Annex2) which clearly states the qualifier “balanced” and formally commits it for the future:

“The Council [...] confirms that, as the package constitutes an equitable distribution of effort between all parties, namely, staff members, pensioners and Participating Organisations, it is not possible to change any element of the package without changing the whole, it being understood that an equitable distribution model should be maintained in all cases”

Failure to comply with the Council resolution would be seen by CERN pensioners as a betrayal of this historic agreement and would be fought as such.

Enrico Chiaveri
President of the CERN and ESO Pensioners’ Association

* Although in a defined benefit system, the pensioners have accepted this reduction in benefits.

The Staff Association fully shares the GAC-EPA’s understanding of the balanced package decided in 2010 by the Council of the Organisation which, according to the Management, the Association and the Member States “constitutes a balanced and equitable package, aimed at reaching full funding of the CERN Pension Fund as soon as possible” (see document CERN/2947).

The Association also fully supports the GAC-EPA in its desire to preserve this balanced package, and notes that with its implementation the Organization is indeed on track to achieve full funding of the Pension Fund even before the planned deadline (i.e. 2041).

Finally, neither the Association nor the GAC-EPA would understand or accept the questioning of this balanced package of measures.

ACCESS to CERN sites

The sites are once again accessible to retirees. Before going to the entrances, please check the validity of your access cards (building 55, ground floor) and your vehicles (building 55, 1st floor). For any other information, please refer to the regularly updated information.

Readers' Information

Information published in this section remains the responsibility of their authors, and may not correspond to the Association's opinion. The Association cannot be rendered liable for the content.

USING YOUR CERN EXPERIENCE TO HELP OTHERS

We have all been extremely fortunate to work at CERN. It has given us the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, to learn many new skills, to use our skills in a constantly evolving, high-tech environment. Everything that you have learned over your years at CERN is invaluable and can be used to help others less fortunate than you.

If you are looking to do useful work after you have retired from CERN paid employment, there are various avenues open to you:

1— There are opportunities to use your professional skills volunteering with two professional bodies: The African School of Physics run by Dr. Ketevi Assamagan and Physics Without Frontiers run by Dr. Kate Shaw.

Ex-CERN staff can serve as guest lecturers at African universities, AIMS, Physics Without Borders, the African School of Physics, etc. There is a need to train teachers for computing proficiency, small detector labs and the Internet of Things to empower teachers to teach their students. The physics community in Africa is developing its first grass-roots, continental-wide physics roadmap or strategy similar to the European strategy for particle physics but with a wider scope to include all physics domains impactful for African development.

The African strategy for physics consists of many working groups in fundamental and applied physics where the participation of ex-CERN staff is welcome and would be appreciated. We have a few retired CERN physicists already making positive contributions not only in the technical education of teachers but also in the African strategy development.

We encourage ex-CERN staff to seek these opportunities to share their knowledge and expertise where they will be appreciated with personal satisfaction in return. We have a little money available to cover local accommodation for a certain time.

PWF1 PWF2

If you are interested in either of these organisations, do get in touch with

Dr Ketevi Assamagan — Ketevi.Adikle.Assamagan@cern.ch

Dr Kate Shaw — Kate.Shaw@cern.ch

2— Closer to home the Centre Genevois du Volontariat in Geneva co-ordinates requests from a huge variety of organisations and individuals who need help with everything from helping out on excursions for a women’s refuge, to accompanying handicapped people on a day trip, to collecting food contributions at major supermarkets for the famous Samedi du Partage and taking the elderly or people with no family or children whose parents have little money and must work, to medical appointments.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the Centre Genevois du Volontariat (mention you come via Connie Potter from CERN) to get put on their mailinglist of calls for help.

https://volontariat-ge.org/

CGV

Adresse :

CENTRE GENEVOIS DU VOLONTARIAT
Av. Pictet-de-Rochemont 7
1207 Genève
Téléphone : +41 22 736 82 42

A little kindness goes a long way! Kind regards

Connie Potter

cgv@swissonline.ch

E-mail : cgv@swissonline.ch

CERN Conferences, Events and Special Guests The ATLAS

Collaboration and the Big Bang Collective


Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Colophon

This Bulletin reports on the activities of the Committee of the CERN-ESO Pensioners’ Association (GAC-EPA) and on the work of the CERN and ESO committees in which the GAC-EPA is represented.

Editor-in-chief:  Bernard Ducret

Proofreaders: (French)

Marcel Aymon
Catherine Laverrière
Gertjan Bossen

Proofreaders/Translators (English)

Michel Baboulaz
Catherine Laverrière
Susan Leech O’Neale
Morna Robillard

Layout:  Bernard Ducret
Photo credits, tables:  CERN, ESO, PFGB, Philippe GELUCK

Printing:  EXAPRINT

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.


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