Group of European Pensioners from Savings Banks and Financial Institutions

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Index of documents > Euromeetings Magazine > Euromeetings Number 8



 

 

The expression “Golden clause”, now a very ordinary term in the Italian vocabulary related to social protection, means that pensioners are entitled to update their old-age pension according to the active workers’ pays depending on their national contract of employment and the company supplements, so that category and seniority agree.

 

This formula guarantees the constant balance of pensions’ purchasing power and it also takes into account the current annual percentage of the basic increase in the cost of living (inflation rate).

 

Nowadays, due to political reasons, the original meaning has changed and it has taken the role of a  specific status  privilege” but it forgets that this “privilege” has never been in charge of the government funds but in charge of workers and companies.

 

In fact, the credit sector (Banks and savings Banks) had set up a social protection system consisting of three different sections: “exonerating Funds” (exonerated from public National Insurance contributions); “excluding Funds” (excluded from the National Insurance); “including Funds” (they include the National Insurance).

 

• The exonerated Funds had been created under the law 55/1958 that regulated the Social Protection in the credit sector and offered the possibility to create pension funds under the company guarantee, but with its own legal entity and a board of directors consisting of both company representatives and workers or pensioners. Every Funds had their own Statute that regulated the value of pensions according to the pay and the cost of living. The resulting old-age pension could never be inferior to the one established by Social Security. It existed other kinds of profit and, according to this law, eight Funds were created (savings bank of Turin, Asti, Lombard provinces, Padova and Rovigo, Florence, sicilian provinces, Siena and San Paolo IMI).

 

• There were two exluding Funds (Napoli bank and bank of Sicily); in this case we are talking about two credit companies, already issuing Institutes, that during the Italian Kingdom with the Bank of Italy and according to a law from the beginning of the century, they considered old-age pensions as “differed pays” coming from the budget of the company. For this reason no specific funds existed. Even in this case old-age pensions agreed with the pay and the cost of living.

 

• Including Funds were created in other companies to obtain pensions consistent with pays and not only with the cost of living. In this case they could be legal entities o simply another budget company section.

 

• As well as these Funds, focused on the link between pension and active workers’pays, other additional Funds were created. This new system guaranteed and it still guarantees a tax income distribution, annualy or every six months, which leads to contribution profitability. This income is in proportion both to every worker’s contributions and the number of years he has been paying social security contributions. These Funds have never been subjected to bill. We should notice that, due to investments both in property and fittings, and under no guarantee, these funds are subject, like nowadays, to low yields and negative in Stock Exchange.So it is difficult to rise pension's pays.

               

For all these funds there was no state economic support, since they only depended on workers and companies’ contributions. Every year a present-day balance was made to guarantee their constant perseverance and companies paid to keep the fund unalterable.

 

In 1978 the first rebellion took place by means of a new law called “law14” that drew up the abolition of parity between old-age pensions and separating funds pays. Pensioners Associations and Federations rebelled against this law and took the case to the constitutional court. The court passed sentence in 1985 and declared that it was a legitimate measure according to the delicate budgetary state situation when the measure was adopted and it specified that it could not be implemented during indefinite period. So the court asked the government and the Parliament for new measures to protect pensions from purchasing power losses. However, nobody took into account that old-age pensions had never been in charge of the government and its intervention was justified by the perception of the serious financial situation it was going through.

 

This situation caused the passing  of some laws to ensure parity between pensions and pays: 140/85 and 544/88 laws. The real parity took place on 31st December 1988. Afterwards, the law 59/91 passed. It could have contributed a subsequent profit, but “Amato’s Law” repaced it in the bank sector. “Amato’s Law” was designed to be a rescue operation for banks in the south (Bank of Napoli and Bank of Sicily) that was going through a serious crisis. Before, savings banks as Monte di Siena and San Paolo, as public institutes, would not be obliged to turn into stockbroker companies, so pension funds would have had the same characteristics. In fact, funds would have turned into National Insurance including funds only if the company had turned into a Stockbroker Company. Finally it did not occur and all savings banks and public institutes were olbliged to turn into including funds, with the same assets. With the National Insurance a special management for these funds was created to oblige companies to give a guarantee every twenty years for pension incomes for National Insurance. The governement took no responsability for it. In practice, pensions are paid by companies which own funds; these companies and the Social Security compensate for company and active workers’ contribution and the part of pension for National Insurance. We have to remember that all these funds turned into close including funds, in other words, since 1991 no new members exist and banks and National Insurance distribute pension payment’ bonds ( 85% in charge of National Insurance and 15% in charge of including funds). Bank of Napoli and bank of Sicily was in the same situation.

 

 

Amato’s Law planned to mantain the esame conditions for all funds except, depending on the company, the parity between pensions and pay. This situation was taken to the industrial tribunal to defend pensioners’rights. These case had different endings. In general pensioner Associations had favourable judgments at the beginning, but they had some difficulty in appeal for annulment. To make it worse, after updating the 59/91 law, some government decrees were adopted and Amato law (and some financial laws too) was renovated. With the Financial Law in 1998 the total exclusion was achieved.

 

This law imposes the same conditions for the so-called “pure” (or including) funds, as long as they are an integral part of National Insurance. So every private negotiation to exceed legal limits is avoided and the National Insurance system is homogeneous.

 

Trade union groups did not solve pensioners’ problems since they impeded any negotiation or conversation between companies and pensioner associations. Companies, taking advantage fo this situation, tend to get rid of inappropiate duties and they negociate with trade unions including funds’settlement by means of “pakages” to settle individual billsconsisting both of worker and company contributing bill and proportional interest and revaluation. So pensionershave nothing to demand and the employee transfers his capital to another insurance fund. So the company is free from any duty.

 

 

The current Parliament Reform will not contribute anything new, since it will copy the European measures focused on three pillars: public National Insurance, supplementary and individual National Insurance (the last two options have insurance characteristics). This reform leaves out people who, under no circumstances, can increase their deposit by joining a new funds and they feel they are being discriminated against intergenerational solidarity and future pensions since they forget that current pensioners showed support for those who left the labour market and they helped to make young people aware of solidarity. In practice, even if nobody has stated it clearly, current pensioners are considered as a social responsability.

 

                                               

Which is the best solution to safeguard pensions purchasing power considering that it is not only a current problem but also a future issue? In my opinion we need a political solution. We must emphasize european and national decisions, we must increase our lobbying action, we must explain our rights to present suitable laws and avoid this situation becoming a collection of speeches and statements lacking in practical results. It also includes national and European legal measures

but, above all, join political measures regardless of tendencies in order to make public our problems.

 

I have reached the conclusion that all Associations and Federations must unite against injustices, making the most of AGE Platform, to fulfill our requests and our rights.

 

 

Franco Salza

President of the “Federazione Nazionale

Sindacale delle Associazioni dei Pensionati

del Credito”