Group of European Pensioners from Savings Banks and Financial Institutions


Index of documents > Euromeetings Magazine > Euromeetings Number 6

ALTHOUGH the transition to the group of the elderly is not defined by law yet, we actually consider as old people, generally speaking, those who have 'crossed over the river of their working life', that is, those people who, in one way or another, have retired from their working activities as employees or self-employed.


An important event for us, the elderly, took place last June in Spain, in the Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones of Madrid, the 2nd National Congress of the Elderly, with the motto 'A society for all ages', the debates of which were attended by more than 1,200 people. There were three main issues:

• An ageing population as a social phenomenon.

• Society’s commitment concerning the elderly, and

• The elderly’s contribution to society.


One of the problems faced by our society is its fast ageing. And this not only because of a longer life expectancy, but also because of the diminution of births, which creates, in this way, a low replacement level. Moreover, if we take into account the diminution of the age at which people 'cross over' the river of working life, then we have our answer.


Actually, the representatives of companies (and that is their role) want them to become modern institutions, and they try to help their workers to adapt to the new technological advances, using pressure and precision in order not to miss 'the train of modernity', as they call it; and since certain people cannot, physically or psychologically, adapt quickly enough to those changes (let us not forget that the years during which we have worked lead us to a certain degree of tiredness), the company has to choose between slowing its evolution, thus risking obsolescence, and substitute their workers for younger people, modern and better educated. This is why, besides an apparent smaller cost for the company, the second alternative is often chosen.


I will not try now to analyse the consequences which might be suffered by our society because of this attitude. I would only like to talk about the reality we are living, about the human aspect, maybe from a local point of view.


Once we all understand that retired people do not have to work in order to support themselves daily, because their pensions and means were earned long time ago, the elderly must, moreover, enjoy a physical, psychological and social well being.


A social well being –and I would like to emphasize this point– for the elderly, in order to keep their social relationships, and to continue living with those with whom they have shared work and experience for many years, people who belong to the same culture. Their new situation must not close any door; they must not be excluded nor socially discriminated because of this change.


In order to favour the continuity of the relations of friendship that they had maintained during their working life, and in order to keep a coexistence in that common culture that they had created and promoted, a social movement was born more than ten years ago, and many associations were organised around the savings institutions.


Since the beginning, these associations were composed of those employees who crossed over the river of working life, using one of these two bridges: they reached the regulated age –60 or 65 years old–, or they were incapacitated for work. They also accepted orphans and retired widows of the savings institutions’ employees. That is, they accepted all the options that existed up to that moment: Retired Staff and Pensioners from Savings Banks. Those were the three 'doors' (only three because there were no more options) by which one could become a member of these associations.


Generally speaking, these Associations of Retired Staff and Pensioners have been living under the protection of the mother-institution that gave them birth, which in some way has promoted that spirit of coexistence and brotherhood which was lived by those who, before them, had the responsibility of working for the promoting of savings and financial services of the institution to which they belonged.


Meanwhile, social, working and entrepreneurial life has been evolving, and we have now a third 'bridge' in this river of working life: pre-retirement.


And our Spanish Associations, of course, are preparing a fourth access door to welcome their pre-retired colleagues, in order to keep coexisting with them in this 'other bank of the river'.


About this issue of pre-retirement, in May 2000, during the 10th Convention of Associations of Retired Staff and Pensioners from Confederated Savings Banks, held in Leon (Spain), the organisations which were living this situation declared that they were already accepting pre-retired colleagues. Subsequently, they had started changing their Statutes, in order to adapt them to reality. Some of the reasons in favour of their admission were:

• The President of the European Group stated that he was in favour of their admission because '... we have to be united, and we have to avoid disunity'.

• The President of the Federation advised: '... we must admit them on a basis of equality of rights'.

• Another representative stated that his Association has already admitted pre-retirees and that '... they are members of our Management Board'.

• A general statement was: '... if we did not accept them, our Association would risk disappearance...'.

• '... a pre-retiree is the same as a retiree, because he/she will never work again for the Savings Bank...'.

• '... it would be a contradiction promoting and demanding an intergenerational coexistence while, at the same time, rejecting a coexistence with the generations that go right after us, that will succeed us...'.

• Other people declared that they admit pre-retirees, '... except those who work for other companies'. Which is logical, because a pre-retiree who starts working for another company would still be active, but in another place, with the consequences born of his/her previous situation as a pre-retiree; that is, he/she would be like a retiree who works as a self-employee or employee, to the detriment of his/her pension.


As we can see, both the European Group of Associations and the Spanish Federation, and even the Spanish Associations, are in favour of admitting pre-retirees in their organisations.


So far, most Associations have understood, wisely, that pre-retirement is a new situation (the third 'bridge') through which we can exit the active working life –and if it had existed when the associations were organised, it would have been included as well in their statutes–; therefore, pre-retirees are brothers and sisters of ours, and they have worked with us in order to bring our Savings Banks to the firm and prestigious position that they occupy today.


Thus, all the pre-retirees and retirees (both because of age or incapacity), and their respective spouses and orphans, we all are a part of this social group called 'the elderly'; that is why we must be united, and with the support of our respective mother-institutions, we must do many things to serve this society we are so proud to belong to. This is the way we can avoid an intergenerational rupture.


Almost every association is working in order to achieve this goal, and we are many people who want this wish to become a happy reality.


May God grant us this wish, and it would be good if our Associations changed their names into 'Association of the Elderly from the ... Savings Bank' That name would give full meaning to the participation of our Federation of Associations in the Spanish Confederation of Associations of the Elderly (CEOMA).



Ángel E. García Rubiales

Retired of CAJA MADRID