BEMAWU did not settle with the SABC on the PRMA case and we will possibly go to court on a future date.
The agreement, as signed between the pensioners and the SABC, is a minefield and the SABC has refused to amend the agreement to clarify vital points. The agreement states that the SABC admit the contractual right of its employee’s to receive PRMA contributions from the SABC. With this we do not have a problem, as this is exactly what our case is based on.
It then went further to state that employees are entitled to PRMA benefits for as long as they qualify. They qualify only because of their membership of the SABC’s medical aid scheme. If they are no longer members of the SABC Medical Aid scheme, members do not qualify for PRMA benefits.
Remember, the PRMA is not part of the SABC Medical Scheme, but a separate term and condition of employment (like the medical aid.)
The agreement further states that the SABC will only consult the plaintiffs (which has been defined as the pensioners only) about an alternative medical aid scheme with broadly the same (medical aid) benefits. Should the pensioners not be satisfied with the alternative scheme, they could go on expedited arbitration.
Our problem is this – PRMA and Medical Aid are two separate issues. PRMA is not part of the medical aid scheme. The danger the pensioners are now faced with, is that when they are put on a new medical scheme (they have already agreed to a new scheme) they will loose their PRMA benefit. In terms of the rules of the PRMA Scheme and in terms of the agreement signed by their lawyers.
We want the agreement to be amended to secure PRMA benefits even if we accept a new medical scheme (which must be by agreement between the parties). The SABC’s first reaction was that they do not agree to such an amendment. Why not? If the spirit of the agreement did not mean members will loose that benefit, why not putting it in the agreement?
We also want assurance that the SABC will not simply consult us on a new medical scheme. It is a term and condition of employment and it must be negotiated.
Our medical scheme is by far superior to any open scheme and we should never let go of our scheme. Our scheme does not have directors and shareholders and CEO’s which must be paid dividends, bonuses and salaries. Apart from administration fees, the rest of the money is used for the benefit of our members. Our scheme has shown in the past they are willing to pay for new technology and treatment which may save a member’s life. Other, open schemes has refused to pay. You, or your family may suffer from cancer, and some new treatment could be available but not on the approved list of an open medical scheme and you will not be able to benefit from that. With our current scheme its different.
We are still in discussions with the SABC and the matter could still settle before we go to court. We will in the meantime apply for an expedited date.