Sunday 17 December 2017

CIE threatens to cut unions out of pension process due to 'misrepresentation'


Recent pay rises across the CIE group have put pressure on pensions, the company claims. Photo: Collins
Recent pay rises across the CIE group have put pressure on pensions, the company claims. Photo: Collins

Fearghal O'Connor

State transport company CIE has warned trade unions they will no longer be consulted on a rescue plan for the company's troubled pension funds because of their attitude to talks.

In a letter to officials from all unions in the company, CIE's head of human resources, Declan Carlyle, accused worker representatives of "obfuscation and misrepresentation" over the issue.

He also blamed recent pay rises across the CIE Group for increasing the pressure on pensions. The deficit in all CIE pension schemes was €288m, it is understood. The tone of Carlyle's letter makes clear that the pension issue threatens to become yet another front in the series of industrial relations battles that have dogged public transport recently.

Carlyle said he was writing the letter following "another futile conciliation conference" at the Workplace Relations Commission last month after unions had been invited to discuss funding proposals "on foot of alarming deficits and increasing volatility which had the potential to threaten future retirement benefits across the group".

"Regrettably, the seriousness attached to this matter by CIE since 2015 has been scorned upon by the TUG [trade union group]. Further, the complexity of the matter has been compounded as a result of pay agreements between the TUG and some CIE subsidiary companies," said the letter.

Carlyle warned that "we have now reached a critical point regarding the continued involvement of the TUG in this process" and there was a legal obligation on the trustees of the schemes to submit new proposal to the Pensions Authority before the end of 2017. The company was attempting to develop a set of measures it could present with the unions to the trustees but "clearly time is running out for CIE's preferred process".

"If the TUG's stance continues to be one of obfuscation and misrepresentation of the matters at hand, including erroneously alleging CIE has not contributed to one of the schemes in accordance with the recommendations of the actuary, then ClE will have no choice but to hand the entire matter to the trustees to resolve, as they see fit, with no role for the TUG in that process," he said.

CIE's stance was "not deliberately designed to provoke the TUG, it merely reflects the position we, and others with statutory obligations find ourselves in. CIE must take cognisance of the onerous responsibility that will be placed on the trustees of both schemes if they alone are to formulate and submit a set of rectification proposals to the Pension Authority and the timeframe remaining available for them to do so", he said.

Sunday Indo Business

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