Holiday with the two of us

24 GAK (Joint Administration Office)

From G. Kolff & Co. to the GAK

Despite the fact that I really liked working at G. Kolff & Co. printers, I quit after five years, having very much enjoyed working there all this time, because I couldn’t build up a decent superannuation with them. In Indonesia, locally recruited staff didn’t qualify for superannuation at all, or if they did, it was only very minimal. Such was the case not only at G. Kolff & Co. printer’s but also at many other private Dutch businesses in Indonesia. Here in the Netherlands, superannuation was built up by saving ‘superannuation stamps’ I think and later, when I retired in 1991, I was informed my accrued superannuation would give me an initial retirement allowance of just 23 guilders per month.

Na 44 jaar werken ben ik op 29 September 1986 met pensioen gegaan
After 44 years of working, I retired on 29 September 1986. On this day I was greatly regaled by the GAK (Joint Administration Office) to celebrate my 25th anniversary there.

Every day on my way to and from work at Kolff, I came past the GAK (Joint Administration Office) on my Mobylette scooter. It had a spacious car park. Indeed, I owned an old Mobylette scooter, but given the fact that I feel the cold very easily, I very much preferred going to work in my ancient Volkswagen Beetle which had heating. The GAK seemed a respectable organisation, so I applied for a job there and after they hired me I worked there for an entire 25 years – and with much pleasure too – at the department of the ‘Merchant Navy Collective Pension Fund’. So that’s where, after an industrious life, I eventually finished my career. I also had the pleasure of celebrating 25 years of service there, in the presence of my family. During all the years I was employed at the GAK, I received – with annual refresher trainings – three first aid certificates: one for Resuscitation, one for General First Aid and one for First Aid in Disasters. Fortunately I’ve never had to use any of the skills I learnt in achieving these certificates. At the GAK I was admitted into a very favourable superannuation scheme, so I can’t say I can complain about the superannuation entitlements I built up at the GAK.

Special situations

During my work at the Merchant Navy Collective Pension Fund department I sometimes came across strange situations. For instance, people who’d worked no more than a couple of years as a sailor with the Dutch Merchant Navy, with only a limited number of sailing days, could, once they had not sailed for a certain number of years, apply for disbursement of the superannuation contributions that had been withheld from their salary. One day, a man from the Amsterdam Jordaan neighbourhood came in with his entire family, showed his muster-book and requested reimbursement of the superannuation contributions that had been withheld. As far as I could tell he was indeed entitled to this, but strangely enough I couldn’t find any of his details, not even among the records of superannuation contributions which had already been reimbursed. When I confronted the man with this, he kicked up a stink: after all, he had his muster book to prove it. So as a last resort I called the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to find out more about this guy. That’s when I found out he could never have paid any superannuation contributions, for he had collaborated with the Germans during the German occupation of the Netherlands, with the associated consequences. When I told him so, he made an even bigger fuss, would you believe. He eventually left, in a terrible mood, followed closely by all of his relatives.

Roasted guling kambing (goat)
Here I watch how guling kambing (goat) is roasted. For this dish a whole goat is severed. This is in contrast to babi guling (pig) where the whole pig is kept intact.
Another case involved an Indonesian ex-sailor with the Dutch Mercantile Navy, who also requested disbursement of his superannuation contributions. He didn’t speak a word of Dutch or English and was served by a Dutch colleague. Consequently, they couldn’t understand one another. Eventually I was asked to deal with this case.
I spotted a very discontented looking man in the waiting room. His face immediately lit up when I addressed him in Indonesian and asked how I could help him. As it turned out, he did indeed qualify for disbursement of his superannuation contributions, but disbursement would take one or two weeks, or even longer. This was due to administrative procedures, as the Joint Administration Office (GAK) was of course a large institution with numerous associated superannuation funds. By then, the man would already have returned to Indonesia. After we’d chatted a bit in his mother tongue, I asked him to submit a letter to the GAK upon his return home, addressed to myself, in which he should request disbursement of the withheld superannuation contributions from when he was a sailor with the Dutch Merchant Navy. He was also to include a "life certificate", i.e. a certificate stating that he was alive. Since I had learned the hard way in similar situations concerning Indonesia, I explained to him that a life certificate should be issued by the police, the district chief or some other authorised person or institution, and most importantly that it was to be signed by just one person, under no circumstances by more than one person. I made sure to explicitly inform him of the latter!!!
Lovely rambutans, manggistans, salaks, jeruk Bali, 
					 bananas, etc.
Lovely rambutans, manggistans, salaks, jeruk Bali, bananas, etc.
An attempt which was doomed to fail, which was unfortunately very common in such situations, as his protests were simply ignored. In Indonesia it is common practice to scratch each other’s backs as far as signing documents is concerned, as the signatory can later on demand his share: after all, by signing he had contributed to the payout. That in situations where the payout was only a small amount and little or nothing would remain for the recipient of the funds, wasn’t their problem.


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