Workers wait seven years for payouts

2010-12-20 00:00

SEVEN years after the engineering and metal industries pension and provident funds announced that an estimated surplus of R80 billion was available for distribution, KwaZulu-Natal workers who are the beneficiaries have still not been paid out.

Nelson Sokhela, a National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) shop steward based in Pietermaritzburg, is leading the campaign for the surplus funds to be distributed.

When Sokhela contacted the administrators, he said, he was told the money will be distributed only once 70% of the members of the funds have been located and have applied for their money.

“This is an impossible target as many members have died, they are also scattered all around Southern Africa and live in the remotest of rural areas.”

According to Sokhela, the July 2010 Numsa newsletter said only 100 000 workers had contacted the fund’s call centre and there were still a further 500 000 who needed to apply

Sokhela said he believes the fund needs to make a greater effort to find the members.

He said he is struggling to get information about how much is available in the fund for distribution and how many beneficiaries there are.

“We need this money now while we are living, as we have children to educate. What is the use of the money when we are gone, and will our families benefit?” Sokhela asked.

THE Witness contacted Brian Sibiya of the Metal Industries Benefit Fund Administrators (Mibfa) to ask about the surplus apportionment process.

Q: How much is there presently in the pension surplus funds?

A: This will be up to the actuaries to calculate when the scheme has been approved by the Financial Services Board.

Q: How many workers is this amount going to be paid out to?

A: The following parties are considered “stakeholders” in the surplus apportionment process:

•Former members of the funds;

•Metal Industries Provident Fund: these are all members who left the MIPF between May 1, 1991 (inception date of the fund), and March 31, 2008 (the surplus apportionment date);

•Engineering Industries Pension Fund: these are all members who left the EIPF between January 1, 1980 (the date specified in the Pension Funds Act) and March 31, 2008 (the surplus apportionment date);

•Active members as at March 31, 2008; if any of these members withdrew, died or retired after March 31, 2008, they are still taken into account as active members;

•Pensioners and deferred pensioners as at March 31, 2008 (only EIPF);

•Employers.

Q: How much can each worker expect to get?

A: This will be up to the actuaries to calculate when the scheme has been approved by the Financial Services Board.

Q: When will the workers get their money and how will it be paid out to them?

When the scheme has been approved by the Financial Services Board, the stakeholders will receive communication of their surplus payout.

Q: What is causing the delay in paying out the money?

A: Please note that the surplus apportionment is a lengthy process. We are in the phase whereby communication will be sent to the members soon with regard to their share in the surplus apportionment.

Q: Are you trying to contact the 70% of the members before making payment?

A: There seems to be a misunderstanding regarding this matter. We are currently attempting to reach the majority of members as per the Pension Funds Act.

When the scheme has been approved by the Financial Services Board, the former members will be paid their minimum benefits, after which the remaining surplus will be distributed to rest of the stakeholders.

Q: There is confusion as to who can apply for the surplus funds. Can you provide some guidance?

A: The following parties preare legally not regarded as stakeholders and should therefore be excluded from the surplus apportionment scheme as per the Pension Funds Act:

•All former members who died before or on March 31, 2008.

•All former pensioners or deferred pensioners who died before or on March 31, 2008.

•All members who entered the funds on or after April 1, 2008.

Sibiya said Mibfa is using national and community newspapers and radio to call on members to apply for the funds.

He said consultants are also involved in marketing and advertising the surplus apportionment exercise.

More information and details of how to apply can be obtained from the Surplus Call Centre at 086 150 4455, Sibiya added.

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