FF Plus takes heart from Pravin Gordhan’s statement on Transnet pensioners
The Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) said it was encouraged by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s response to its question on the plight of thousands of Transnet pensioners.
The estimated 40‚000 pensioners achieved victory at the Constitutional Court in April when the court granted permission for their claim to recover billions owed to them.
The pensioners instituted a class-action suit against the Transport Pension Fund‚ the Transnet Second Defined Benefit Fund and Transnet.
Their claim was based on a promise made to them in 1989 that they would receive the same pension benefits under a commercial entity‚ Transnet‚ as they did under the state entity that employed them until then‚ the South African Transport Services and its two pension funds.
The pension funds kept the promise until 2002‚ when the funds failed to grant any pension increases beyond the minimum of 2% per year.
The pensioners had calculated that the debt owed to the two pension funds stood at R80bn by March 2013.
The FF Plus had asked Gordhan to discuss a possible settlement of the class action by the pensioners‚ following the Constitutional Court judgment.
Speaking during the Department of Public Enterprises’ budget vote on Tuesday‚ Gordhan said Transnet appeared willing to settle‚ but added that the matter was still with the courts.
"But I think what’s blocking the two sides from getting together is possibly an extravagant evaluation of what pensioners are entitled to, as opposed to what might really be the case.
"If all of us can encourage a realistic amount in this particular case‚ we are quite willing to bring parties together and see how we can deal with this particular story‚" Gordhan said.
The FF Plus said it considered the minister’s statements to be positive and a step in the right direction.
"The party hopes that a fair settlement will be reached soon for the sake of the approximately 40‚000 pensioners who have suffered years of poverty and misery due to the fact that the money in their pension fund was looted‚" FF Plus chairman and parliamentary spokesperson on transport Anton Alberts said.