Johannesburg - A battle between the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the engineering and metal industry over a R20bn pension fund surplus has been resolved, the union said on Thursday.
"Last week the board of trustees finally agreed to release the funds," Philemon Shiburi, Numsa national treasurer, told Sapa.
Numsa and employer federation Steel and Engineering Industry Federation of SA (Seifsa) had been trying to resolve the pension fund surplus issue for decades.
The surplus had accumulated to the Engineering Industries Pension Fund and Metal Industries Provident Fund since the 1950s.
The R20bn surplus would be redistributed and paid to current and former members in the metal and engineering sectors.
The agreement by the board of trustees on February 15 was sent to the Financial Services Board, which had stepped in to help resolve the matter in 2002.
"They have to approve it, and as soon as they say go ahead... if there are no objections... then we expect by September or early next year to start distributing the funds," said Shiburi.
R11bn would be distributed to members in cash.
The remaining R9bn, which was the employers' share, would go towards increasing pension benefits to employees, Shiburi said.
The matter had twice gone to court, and eventually both the union and Seifsa agreed that it be adjudicated under the Pension Fund Act.
Numsa said the fund had 1.5 million former members who would benefit.
"Sadly, the spouses of the deceased members who have passed on before April 2008 are not entitled to any benefit because the act excludes them."
The union planned to embark on a campaign to find the members who stood to benefit.