We met Micheál Martin, Willie O’Dea and Barry Cowan this week regarding the unconscionable delay in paying RTE pensioners their own pension. It will soon be the second anniversary of the RTE submission to Government for a 1% increase despite the clear ability of the Scheme to pay over 2%. As always when we meet politicians they are genuinely surprised by the simple facts of the case.
We spent quite some time discussing our central demand, the urgent need for legislation to establish pensioners right to have a statutory right to have their views taken into account when matters which affect them are being debated.
An excellent example was illustrated when Brid Smith TD questioned RTE and the Dept. of Communications recently at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Change and Environment. This is available to view on line at Oireachtas TV but here is a transcription of the relevant section. Brid Smith has been a very important supporter in these matters. Her knowledge helped clarify matters in this exchange.
Brid Smith TD addressing Breda O’Keefe, CFO RTE
I recently met some of your pensioners on a different level. They’re trying to fight for the reinstatement of public sector pensions in full that were cut in 2008. Those pensioners have not received an increase since 2008. Many of them are living on the breadline, and they would have been key people – researchers, people working in accounts, etc. Is there anything you can see that can be done to reinstate increases in the pensions for your former staff,
Breda O’Keefe CFO RTE
I think it’s an important point around pensioners because…. I presume Deputy you’re referring to the Defined Benefit scheme, which is has been closed to new entrants since the late 80s. And that scheme in fact is is in surplus. We’re fortunate enough the scheme has been well managed by the trustees and by the Chair of the Defined Benefit Superannuation Scheme, and it passes the Minimum Funding Standard, the long term valuation, so it is in a relatively good place. We, RTE, as the sponsor, recommended a modest increase for our pensioners. We submitted that recommendation. Under the regulations of the scheme, any such increase to our pensioners, we cannot authorise that ourselves, it has to be approved by the Minister.
And the Minister is holding it up?
(Hesitates..) ah …the request is with the minister.
Patricia Cronin Ass. Secretary General Dept. Communications.
Just to say it’s approved by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, and that department has come back with questions. Obviously they obviously have to be assured that it’s in an order to pay this increase to pensioners so we’re engaging with them and with RTÉ on that issue.
Are you engaging with the pensioners?
Well obviously RTE come, come (sic) with the pension increase so, so (sic) we engage with RTE, and we’ve also, we’ve also have met the Trustees of that Scheme.
End of transcription.
The plain answer to Brid Smith’s final question is NO. In effect, we do not have to discuss this critical matter with those most affected.
The matter has been delayed in the Dept. Public Expenditure and Reform. Minister Pascal O’Donohue.
How long does it take for this Department to formulate the questions mentioned above and how much longer to make a decision? What are the questions? The years are passing by.
Please read the November 2019 Update post on this website. The presentation contains the essential elements of the points you need to make to your TD during the forthcoming election.