21 Nov 2016

Privy Council rules Cooks super scheme 'unjustifiable'

11:11 am on 21 November 2016
no caption

Photo: Photo NZ

The Privy Council in London has upheld a constitutional appeal made by a group of Cook Islanders who believe they've won vindication for the rights of migrant workers.

The Privy Council has ruled that a section of the Cook Islands National Superannuation Act is 'unjustifiable in its present form' on the grounds that it deprives migrant workers of their property and discriminates against them.

The Arorangi Timberland case against the government has been ongoing for some 15 years, with the group taking the case to the Privy Council after a 2014 appeal found in favour of the government.

Under the superannuation scheme, all migrant workers are required to make contributions to the Super Fund, with their employers also required to make contributions.

The right of withdrawal before an employee reached retirement was limited to those workers resident in the Cooks for the sole purpose of being employed under a contract of service that cannot be longer than three years.

Under the scheme, when the contracts of foreign workers were over and they were to leave, they could receive a refund of the contributions they had made into the fund.

However, the foreign workers were not entitled to receive the contributions made on their behalf by their employer.