Re­tired teach­ers call for ‘jus­tice’

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION -

Dear edi­tor,

The Re­tired Teach­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of New­found­land and Labrador is concerned with the stand that govern­ment has taken by deny­ing to meet and dis­cuss pen­sion en­hance­ments with the groups that rep­re­sent re­tired teach­ers and other re­tired pub­lic sec­tor work­ers.

For many, in­fla­tion has eroded pen­sions to the point that some are fac­ing poverty. For oth­ers who re­tired dur­ing the wage freezes of 1989 to 1997, pen­sions are de­pressed com­pared to their peers who re­tired later.

More­over, ques­tion­able pen­sion fund man­age­ment and “con­tri­bu­tion hol­i­days” on the part of govern­ment de­mand that there be a pos­i­tive ad­just­ment to our pen­sions.

There has to be some jus­tice to com­pen­sate for a 50 per cent in­crease in the cost-ofliv­ing and a cor­re­spond­ing de­val­u­a­tion of 54 per cent of our pen­sions. Twenty-one years is a long time to wait for im­prove­ments to the in­comes of those who worked for the peo­ple and their pro­vin­cial govern­ment through of­ten hard times.

Our as­so­ci­a­tion be­lieves that re­dress is due be­cause our for­mer em­ployer mis­man­aged our pen­sion funds. How­ever, the need of a pos­i­tive ad­just­ment of our pen­sions must not be con­fused with govern­ment’s obli­ga­tion, as a govern­ment, to en­sure a fair and hu­mane en­vi­ron­ment for all se­niors.

Govern­ment has to ap­proach the is­sue of our pen­sions as the for­mer em­ployer which has eth­i­cal and moral obli­ga­tions to right past wrongs. It is true that as a re­sult of the At­lantic Ac­cord, govern­ment was able to ap­ply over $3 bil­lion into the pen­sion plans. How­ever, this was not enough to cover the losses due to the pre­vi­ous mis­man­age­ment. More­over, the move was also de­signed to fore­stall the col­lapse of the pen­sion plans which would have had a neg­a­tive im­pact on the govern­ment’s rep­u­ta­tion. In ad­di­tion, even with that con­tri­bu­tion, which only par­tially com­pen­sated for past fail­ures to build a com­pre­hen­sive fi­nan­cial ba­sis for the pen­sion plans, the funds re­main un­der­funded.

The fact is that the govern­ment did not live up to its le­gal, con­trac­tual, moral and eth­i­cal obli­ga­tions.

The mem­bers of the RTANL and the af­fil­i­ated part­ners in the coali­tion call upon the govern­ment to ac­cept its re­spon­si­bil­ity to rec­tify the in­equities that mark the present pub­lic sec­tor pen­sions sit­u­a­tion. These are due, not to the fail­ure of the for­mer work­ers to live up to their obli­ga­tions, but rather they are due to past gov­ern­men­tal mis­man­age­ment.

The prin­ci­ples of fair­ness and good faith must be ap­plied to the present pen­sions’ predica­ment. All par­ties to the pen­sion con­tract must act in good faith and rather than hid­ing be­hind pub­lic pol­icy, govern­ment must come to the ta­ble as the for­mer em­ployer, ready to ap­ply the same prin­ci­ples by which it wishes to be judged.

Geral­dine Wall, pres­i­dent Re­tired Teach­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of

New­found­land Labrador

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