CERN Accelerating science

Open letter to all Member State Delegates to CERN Finance Committee and CERN Council

Geneva, 17 September 2014


Dear Delegate,

We are surprised to read that the “Terms of reference of a Council Working Group on the CERN Pension Fund” is on the agenda of the Council Session of 18 September 2014. Once more the transformation of the current defined benefit scheme into a defined contribution scheme, as well as the question of how to “re-define” the pension conditions for members and beneficiaries will be investigated.

Already in the framework of the Working Group 2 (WG2) studies, two legal experts demonstrated that the political and administrative bodies of an international organization which are responsible as employer for managing the staff, must respect the general principles inherent in the law of the international civil service in all their actions, especially when proposing changes in employment conditions. In particular Council must respect the principle of acquired rights of active or retired members of personnel.

To reach full funding on a 30-year horizon, and taking into account the WG2 report and the 2010 actuarial study (CERN/2948) Council decided in December 2010 (CERN/2947), June 2011 (CERN/2972 and CERN/2978) and March 2012 (CERN/3010) on a balanced package of measures.

The Pension Fund Governing Board (PFGB) was created by Council to advise it on issues relating to the financial position of the Fund, and in particular to inform Council on the Fund’s balance and to propose to Council any measures aimed at securing, restoring or maintaining the actuarial balance of the Fund. In the latest Council session the PFGB through its chairman stated clearly that there are no reasons to take any actions and to introduce new measures at this moment.

The greatest resource of CERN in its 60-year history was and is its staff, current and past. It is hard for the CERN staff to understand why some Member States have chosen this moment to attack one of the pillars of social security of the staff by wishing to reduce their obligations to the CERN Pension Fund.

Ups and downs in the pension regimes of international organizations and elsewhere are a classic phenomenon, and the fact that reforms involving efforts of pensioners and future pensioners were necessary in several European countries nourishes the arguments of those who want to reduce our pensions.

The continued success of the Organization CERN’s excellence in the technological and scientific fields must be complemented by an excellence in the social field. We trust that Council will understand that, following the opinion of the PFGB, currently there is no need to take any actions, and thus we see no reasons for setting up a new working group on pension matters.

Sincerely yours,

Michel Goossens, President CERN Staff Association
Gertjan Bossen, President CERN-ESO Pensioners’ Association

The Council decided not to set up a working group. However, each Member State is invited, before mid-October, to clearly state to the Presidency of Council the changes it wishes in the conditions of the CERN Pensions.