Tuesday , October 24 2017

Court of Appeals: “No Equal pensions for Caribbean Netherlands”

The Daily Herald writes that pensions for residents of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba may differ from pensions in the European Netherlands, the Joint Court has stated in the appeal case of three residents of the islands against the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment.

According to the three appellants, their lower pensions are in violation of anti-discrimination stipulations in several treaties, among which are the European Human Rights Treaty, the Dutch Constitution and the Kingdom Statute.
Residents in the Caribbean Netherlands receive a pension that is lower than their counterparts in the European Netherlands obtain. In the appeal case, the Court only considered whether the difference is legitimate or in contravention of anti-discrimination stipulations. The Court did not look into the question if and to what extent pensions on Bonaire, Statia and Saba are to differ from pensions in the European Netherlands. According to the Court of Appeals, this question is of a political nature, which should be answered by lawmakers.
The Court disagrees with the three residents and is of the opinion that the Law General Old Age Insurance BES does not make a distinction based on territorial differences. The level of old-age pension differs on how long persons have worked in the European Netherlands or on the islands.
In the second place, it is also of importance where pensioners have contributed to their pensions while they were working. The Court also established that the law does not make any distinction based on ethnicity, because residents of the Caribbean Netherlands cannot be considered one “social group.”
The Appeals Court is further of the opinion that the differences in the level of pensions made in the law are serving a legitimate purpose, because lawmakers were entitled to set certain rules to avoid economic and social disruption after the constitutional changes of October 10, 2010.
The law is also not disproportionate because the pensions in Bonaire, Statia and Saba are related to the minimum wage, similar to the European part of the Netherlands, the Court said.
Finally, the Court also took into consideration that the pension is not meant to guarantee a minimum level of existence, but only is a basic pension that may be enlarged by pensioners themselves.
The three appellants, represented by lawyer Michiel Bijkerk, have announced they will now submit their cases to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

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4 comments

  1. The people of the Netherlands have paid their whole life 10% of their income into the pension fund. The idea behind a pension fund is that you get back what you pay in or, like in case of the AOW, that you share among those who paid in.
    One may not expect that those who did not pay into the fund may share on equal level with those that paid a lot. It is just common sense.

  2. It is just common sense that those who contributed a little into the pension fund do no get the same rights as the Dutch that paid 10% of their income during their working life.
    It is the correct decision.

  3. Drs René Caderius van Veen

    This Court-case has been initiated by people with more greed than ethics and juridical awareness. (shortened by editor)

  4. One observation is incorrect. It is not a requirement that one has worked in order to be entitled to an AOV pension. One only need to have lived in the territory between the age of 15 and 60, which is now gradually being increased to 65. Per year that one has not lived on the islands during this period the AOV pension will be decucted with a percentage of approx 2% per year. It is also not a requirement that any premiums have been paid. Also for instance an housewife who never held a job has the same right to AOV.