PHILIPSBURG–Vidanova Pension Fund has stressed that it is no party in the collective labour agreement (CLA) between St. Maarten Telephone Group of Companies TelEm and St. Maarten Communications Union (SMCU), not even when there is a shift from one pension plan to another.
Vidanova said in a press statement that it wanted to clarify that it can only assist TelEm and SMCU in assessing whether the company’s pension plan is in accordance with all relevant laws, rules and regulations and, of course, whether it still fits within the scope of the pension fund.
Vidanova said it regretted that it might become involved in a labour dispute between TelEm management and SMCU whereby the union has announced it will take both TelEm and Vidanova to court. In this context Vidanova said it wanted to clarify a few matters about its secondary role in such pension issues.
Vidanova indeed has been the pension provider to TelEm since 1994. This means that there is a three-way relationship between Vidanova, TelEm and employees, as is the case with other companies and their pension plans. A pension arrangement is part of the labour conditions and is therefore primarily a matter between the company and its employees. Such pension arrangements are subsequently laid down in a pension plan.
Vidanova’s main role is to execute the agreed-on pension plan, as long as it is executable based on the law, the rules and regulations, and on the policy of the Fund. Vidanova never plays a role in negotiations between management of the company and labour union, other than providing information and clarifying any questions that any of the parties may have. It is thus not involved in the decision-making whether to enter into or change the company’s pension plan.
The moment a company decides to switch from one plan to another, Vidanova does not have any responsibility to assess the plan against a CLA or any other agreement that may exist between management and its employees, as that is a labour condition. Moreover, Vidanova has no knowledge of the stipulations in the CLA.
Vidanova’s task is only to check whether the company’s new collective pension plan is in accordance with the (fiscal) rules and regulations, and whether it fits the policy of the Fund. In the same manner, it is important to note that a defined contribution plan with a retirement age of 60 complies with all relevant laws, rules and regulations and is, therefore, a plan that Vidanova can execute.
Vidanova said it sincerely hopes that any misunderstanding that may exist regarding the role of Vidanova as a pension fund when executing pension plan, is hereby clarified. And, if needed, Vidanova is and will always remain more than happy to clarify any uncertainties that may (still) exist regarding the pension arrangement of TelEm.
However, Vidanova cannot assume any other role or responsibility as to negotiations between management of a company and a labour union on labour matters, not even those related to a secondary benefit, being pensions.