Letter to Editor, Irish Times 22nd April

The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure, Pascal Donohue, makes a fine case for the quality of employment in the public service. (Irish Times April 22nd). 

In the course of his article he writes that public servants benefit from defined benefit pension arrangements. What he fails to mention is that many thousands of semi state employees who supplied the nation with vital services over their lifetimes in the ESB, Bord na Mona, Coillte, RTE and many others have not had any pension increase in the past 10 years. 

Most importantly, it was a condition of their employment that they would never quality for a contributory state pension. Since 2008 the contributory old-age pension has increased by 16%. The Government imposed a levy which reduced pensions by 2.5%. In the case of RTE, for example, the Actuary of the RTE superannuation scheme recommended a 2.25% increase over a year ago and the scheme meets the statutory Minimum Funding Standard. The minister has refused to sanction even this increase which would only restore pensions to pre-levy levels. 

Semi-State company defined benefit schemes are by law under the control of the Minister for Finance. Ten years is a long time in any lifetime but has particular significance if you are in your 70s and 80s. The Minister concludes with the mantra that this government remains committed to being a good employer. Extraordinarily hollow words for all those who worked a lifetime in our semi state companies. Finally, to add insult to injury, the Taoiseach when asked about this dismissed the matter by saying these Semi-state pensions were all private. If they were private and the Actuary recommended an increase – it would happen.So much for the quality of employment in the public service. 

Tony O’Connor Chair

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