Community employment supervisors rally for pension access

By Elaine Loughlin
Political Correspondent

Community employment supervisors have protested outside the Department of Finance over a 10-year dispute over pensions.

Around 1,250 supervisors and assistant supervisors do not get any access to occupational pension schemes and are calling on Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to implement a 2008 Labour Court recommendation.

Retired supervisor Paddy Quinn said: "In 2008 the Labour Court issued a recommendation saying that CE supervisor and assistant supervisors should be given access to a pension."

He said it had been stalled due to the recession but the Government is continuing to refuse to engage on the issue. "I had to retire without a pension...I went from €755 a week down to €230 a week. It's a big drop; it's difficult to come to terms with, and that's why I am out in support of my colleagues here today," said Mr Quinn who worked for 23 years as a supervisor in Co Laois.

More than 250 supervisors have retired with no occupational pension since the recommendation was published. Between 30 and 40 are currently retiring yearly.

Fórsa assistant general secretary Brendan O’Hanlon urged the Government to sit down and engage with unions and to implement the recommendation: "I think the Government position has shifted over the years but they have never formally come out and rejected the Labour Court recommendation.

"The fact that they never rejected the recommendation, people assumed that this issue was going to be addressed and backdated probably to the recommendation," he said.

Mr O'Hanlon said that when the recommendation was determined, it was estimated the provision would cost around €3.6m each year.

Labour’s employment affairs spokesperson Senator Ged Nash accused the Government of "stonewalling" CE supervisors and called for meaningful engagement. “The spirit and letter of the 2008 Labour Court recommendation, on a pension scheme for these workers who manage extremely important social programmes must be respected and implemented.

“A process was established in 2015 by the Labour Party following discussions with SIPTU and Forsa which was designed to bring this important and long-standing cause of concern for supervisors to a satisfactory conclusion. Almost four years on, nothing of note has happened," he said.

Ian Thomas, a supervisor at the Carrigaline Community Employment scheme in Co Cork, said: “I’ve been working as a CE supervisor for 24 years and the pension issue has been an objective for us throughout that time. "The current government is the third administration since the recommendation was made. Nobody has lifted a finger to implement the Labour Court recommendation and, as a group of workers, we are frustrated and angry this has been allowed to idle for so long," he said.

A Department of Public Expenditure spokesperson said: "It continues to be the position that State organisations are not the employer of the particular employees concerned and that it is not possible for the State to provide funding for such a scheme. "The employees in question are, or were, employees of private companies notwithstanding the fact the companies concerned are, or were, reliant on State funding."

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