Discrimination against British service pensioners must end, PN MEP candidate urges

Nationalist Party MEP hopeful Michael Briguglio said that around 6,000 Maltese pensioners who were public service employees before 1979 have been defrauded of their pension rights

Michael Briguglio has called on the government to end the discrimination against pensioners receiving British service pensions.

In a letter sent to the Social Solidarity Minister Michael Falzon on Monday, the PN MEP candidate said that some 6,000 Maltese pensioners who were public service employees in Malta before 1979 have since then been defrauded of their pensioner rights.

This, he said, was due to a 1979 law that partly reduced the sum of service pensions paid for past services in Malta or abroad.

“Instead of receiving a service pension from the Treasury and a Social Security pensions, as they were entitled to by contract, the social security pension of these former servicemen was severely cut (down to around one third), despite them having paid all their all their National Insurance contributions for over 40 years and also contributed to the Widows and Orphans Fund," he said. 

"Moreover, these pensioners have never received increases to their Treasury service pension."

Briguglio underscored that following the petition brought by ex-British serviceman Joseph Caruana to the European Parliament in 2006, “the European Commission had highlighted this grossly unfair discrimination as a breach of EU social security coordination rules, which cover all pensions based on national legislation and prohibit the suspension and reduction of benefits.”

He added that the Commission had already warned the government in 2009 to stop reducing Maltese old-age pensions by the number of civil servant pensions received from other member states. In 2013, the Commission took Malta before the European Court of Justice, which issued a decision the following year dismissing the case based on technicalities, leaving the issue at a stalemate.

“The discrimination against pensioners receiving British service pensions continues. It is time for the government of Malta to put an end to this. With the current rise of cost of living in Malta, providing all pensioners with an adequate and fair pension after decades of work and social contributions is the bare minimum.”

Briguglio is calling for:

  1. The government to request the UK government to explicitly declare that British pension schemes fall under the scope of the EU Regulations on social security coordination.
  2. The government should apply such EU regulations to British service pensions, disapplying the 1979 law, and stopping the reduction of pension benefits.
  3. The government should make use of its budget surplus to provide compensations to pensioners whose pensions had been unfairly deducted, at least since Malta joined the EU in 2004.
  4. The government should ensure that Treasury service pensioners are also given fair treatment, to restore overall equity among all pensioners in Malta. 

Earlier this month, National MEP Robert Metsola had taken to the issue to the European Commission, asking about its efforts to provide a solution to the Maltese and Gozitan pensioners entitled to a service pension. Stating that thousands of Maltese nationals were employed with the British Services in Malta up until 1979 and have since been deprived of drawing their full old-age pensions for years.

“Service pensioners in Malta have been handed a raw deal. Maltese and Gozitan pensioners do not want charity, they are simply asking for what is fair,” she said.

Metsola said that it shouldn’t be too much for pensioners to be “treated fairly.” She added: “We are talking about the right to an adequate and fair pension that reflects years of hard work. Properly functioning pension systems are an important safety net especially in the context of soaring costs of living and rising rents in Malta and Gozo. The status quo is not good enough.”

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