Former RBNZ officials lose battle for bigger pensions
By Paul McBeth
Feb. 28 (BusinessDesk) – A group of former Reserve Bank senior employees have lost their bid to back-date superannuation adjustments to 1992, when the Employment Contracts Act overrode pre-existing collective labour contracts.
In a Feb. 17 judgement, Employment Court Judge Anthony Ford turned down an application that would have forced the central bank to review the percentage of employees’ total remuneration in setting superannuation and retirement gratuities. The judgement was published on the Justice Ministry’s website today.
Former employees Bruce White, Peter Katz, Peter Ledingham and David Archer, and current employee Ian Harrison claimed the bank “failed to fulfil its obligation to periodically review and adjust the superable salary percentage despite its contractual undertaking to do so.”
All of the men held senior roles at the RBNZ, with White and Harrison special advisers, Katz Austraclear business manager, Ledingham head of financial system oversight and David Archer an assistant governor.
They were all members of the bank’ staff superannuation and provident fund, which was set up in the 1930s and, until 1994, saw employees pay 6 percent of the salary into the scheme with the RBNZ topping it up by an amount equal to 12 percent of their pay.
After 1994, the bank was only liable to make contributions to the fund as considered necessary by the actuary, and to provide benefits payable to members.
Judge Ford said the plaintiffs’ argument “appears to proceed on the basis that the contracts/employment agreements do not express the complete agreement between the parties,” and their submissions “focused on countless matters other than the relevant wording of the contractual documents.”
The issue boiled down to whether the bank was obliged to regularly review and adjust the percentage of an employee’s salary in relation to superannuation contributions.
“My conclusion is that the bank was not under any such obligation,” Judge Ford said.
He also dismissed an allegation that the RBNZ breached good faith by not engaging with the employees over the issues arising from the dispute.
The bank was also awarded costs.