NUMSA turns heat on SEIFSA over R9 billion pension surplus

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and employer federation Steel and Engineering Industry Federation of South Africa (SEIFSA) are engaged in a bitter legal wrangle over the allocation of R9 billion pension surpluses to workers.

This follows Seifsa’s application to the Pretoria High Court for a declaratory order which seek to stop metallurgical and steel industry pension funds from distributing the pension surplus to members.

Seifsa insisted that the R9 billion is not subject to distribution to the members and the matter is set down for November 30, 2005 for argument.

The surplus accumulated to the Engineering Industries Pension Fund (EIPF) and Metal Industries Provident Fund (MIPF) over a period of five decades, has always been the source of acrimonious disagreements between NUMSA and the employer body. These (surpluses) accrued as a result of various industrial council agreements between the employer organisations and unions in both industries.

NUMSA, backed by the Registrar of the Pension Funds will oppose Seifsa’s application on November 30, 2005. The bickering between the parties is over which provisions should be used for distribution of the surplus between the LRA of 1995, 1998 and Pension Fund Act.

The Registrar of the Pension Funds and the union argued that both pension funds should distribute the surplus to workers. It is because they were not established in terms of the industrial council agreement and that provision of the Pension Fund Act did not apply to EIPF and MEPF, legal counsel for NUMSA, Mafia Sihlali said in a court application, filed yesterday.

The employer federation has fervently insisted that the distribution should be done in accordance with the LRA which allowed trustees to decide who should be allotted a share in the surplus or who should not get it.

NUMSA and Seifsa had earlier agreed that the trustees of the metal industry pension/provident funds should work out details together of how the distribution of the surplus should be conducted before the court handed a declaratory order sought by employers.

For further enquiries phone Mziwakhe HlanganiNUMSA national information officerAt 083 729 3374 or 011-6891700