Friday 15 November 2019

Industrial action threat on bus and rail over pensions

Stock photo
Stock photo

Anne-Marie Walsh

Bus and rail passengers face the threat of new industrial action over worker pensions.

One of the main unions at CIÉ has warned failure to "grab the pension bull by the horns" will inevitably lead to industrial action.

In a letter to the board of CIÉ, NBRU leader Dermot O'Leary urges it to sell property in order to fund deficits in its defined benefit schemes.

CIÉ pension schemes are "off track" due to pay rises rolled out two years ago and low investment yields.

A document by the transport company on its two troubled defined benefit pension schemes says they were certified to be "off track" in relation to the way they are funded at the end of 2016.

Since then, the company has failed to reach agreement with unions on proposals to restore the schemes to solvency.

The document, seen by the Irish Independent, was written in response to questions by members of the Oireachtas.

It says it contributed €48m to the Regular Wages Schemes and Superannuation Scheme due to deficits in 2016.

The vast majority of staff (76pc) are members of the regular wage scheme and the remaining 24pc are provided for by the superannuation scheme.

It said revised proposals were necessary to show the schemes can be restored to solvency through increased contributions or changes to benefits.

But the board of CIÉ believes contributions alone "will not be sufficient to address the challenges the schemes face".

The company said it was engaged in talks with the Trade Union Group at the Workplace Relations Commission to come up with proposals for a revised funding proposal.

A plan it put forward mirrors steps taken by the State to increase the retirement age from the current positions that allows members draw their pensions from the age of 60.

But it said it had told the trustees of both schemes in September last year that its preferred path to reach agreement with unions was "frustrated" by some unions.

Irish Independent

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