The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade (IMATU) is appalled at the City of Tshwane’s treatment of its retired employees. IMATU believes that the refusal to contribute towards the post –retirement medical aid contributions of pensioners is a direct attack on the well-being of pensioners and the old aged.

In December last year, IMATU was victorious in confirming the contractual obligation of the City of Tshwane to continue contributing towards the monthly premiums of its pensioner members after retirement.

“The North Gauteng High Court handed down judgement in the IMATU & Others v City of Tshwane & Others matter, ordering the City to continue contributing towards post-retirement medical aid contributions of our members. To date the City has refused to comply and we received notice last week that they have filed an application for leave to appeal the aforementioned judgement.

Despite slim margins for success, the City is determined to delay the process and negate the contractual rights of pensioners in respect of post-retirement medical aid contributions. Many of those affected dedicated years of their lives in service to the council, only to be side-lined and denied in retirement”, stated the IMATU Tshwane Regional Manager, Rudy de Bruyn.

IMATU was first alerted to this serious problem when pensioners stopped receiving employer post-retirement medical aid contributions, and employees close to retirement were advised that medical aid contributions from the City of Tshwane would cease once they went on retirement.

“The issue of post-retirement medical aid is a complex problem affecting a large number of local government employees. Due to varying conditions of service pre-dating the Local Government Transition Act and subsequent national collective agreements, IMATU has had to support pensioners on a case by case basis,” explained de Bruyn.

Prior to the 2003 South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) Medical Aid Collective Agreement, local government employees were expected to select an accredited medical aid scheme and remain with this service provider for the duration of their employment. The agreement made it possible for all local government employees to migrate, during an annual window period, between accredited medical aid schemes.

While the onus fell on the employer (municipality) to inform both employees and pensioners of this “choice of movement on an annual basis before 1 January”, the City of Tshwane failed to inform employees belonging to the Pretmed scheme that resignation and movement to other accredited scheme would also terminate any post-retirement medical aid subsidy from the employer.

Employees therefore freely moved between accredited medical aid schemes, unaware of any potential prejudice or disadvantage.

The Judgement correctly noted that the contractual entitlement to a post-retirement medical aid subsidy for former City Council of Pretoria (CCP) employees was never contingent upon employees remaining members of Pretmed, or its successors. As a party to the Medical Aid Collective Agreement, the City of Tshwane accepted the principle of movement between accredited schemes that resulted in “an amendment or alteration of the terms and conditions of employment with regard to medical aid schemes”.

The City of Tshwane was therefore ordered by the North Gauteng High Court to continue to contribute towards the monthly medical aid premiums of the pensioners, as provided for by the medical aid collective agreement at the rate agreed to by the parties from time to time.

The IMATU Tshwane Office is in the process of consulting affected members and ascertaining numbers for future challenges.

“IMATU’s mandate is to act in the best interests of all of our members. This case affects former and current members who have served this municipality and the people of Tshwane over a considerable period of time. Not only is the payment of entitled medical aid subsides the right thing to do, it is an expected decency afforded to the aged and those retiring in an economy of escalating living costs,” concluded de Bruyn.