FFPlus seeks redress for Transnet pensioners

2012-06-22 18:16

Johannesburg - The Freedom Front Plus said on Friday it had sent legal letters to Transnet for information about its two pension funds.

The party is seeking the minutes of all meetings held since 1994, as well as all financial statements, FF Plus spokesman Anton Alberts said.

Transnet has two pension funds: the Transnet Pension Fund (TPF) and the Transnet Second Defined Benefit Pension Fund (TSDBPF).

These were created in 2000 from a predecessor fund with a history of financial hardship. Since their inception, the pension funds had increased benefits by just two percent per year, well below the inflation rate. Over the years many pensioners had fallen into poverty as a result of the low increases.

"Many pensioners have been left destitute. Some are receiving only R1 a month after deductions," Alberts said.

The party was planning a class action application for next month to force Transnet to implement annual increases equivalent to inflation. It should also compensate pensioners for a decade of below-inflation payments and ensure the funds were sustainable.

"Transnet will be spending over R300 billion in the next five years on infrastructure, of which R80 billion will be funded through debt. If they can afford those debts, they can most certainly afford R2 billion for the people who built up Transnet."

It was "ludicrous" that Transnet was not interested in looking after its former employees.

"We wish to claim financially what is due to the pensioners," he said.

In 2010 Parliament instructed Transnet and the National Treasury to make a cash injection of R1.9 billion into the pension funds. The funds would then pay out five months' worth of pension payments and increase payments by a base amount of 3.21 percent.

From that point, annual increases would be 75 percent of the consumer inflation rate. Both Transnet and the Treasury had previously agreed these increases were affordable, Alberts said.

Subsequently, the Treasury said it had not budgeted for the funding instruction and could not afford it.

Last year, Transnet told Parliament it could only afford an annual increase of between 63 and 68 percent of consumer inflation.

Comment from Transnet could not be immediately obtained.