Thursday 19 September 2019

Bus and rail drivers to lobby the government for a reduction in the pension age

The pension age is set to rise to 68 in 2028
The pension age is set to rise to 68 in 2028

Anne-Marie Walsh

BUS and rail drivers have demanded that “bonkers” cuts are reversed so everyone gets a full pension that can be drawn when they reach 65.

Delegates at the National Bus and Railworkers Union biennial conference backed a motion to lobby the government to reinstate the state pension qualifying age.

It now stands at 66 but is set to rise to 68 in 2028.

Proposing the motion, delegate Nicky Hubbard said he was surprised that there was little talk about the state pension.

He said he will not be able to draw it down until he is 68 and for those behind him, it could be even later.

Now the country is back to full employment, he said workers should be entitled to their pension at the same age they used to.

“We will be going on the dole for two years instead of our pensions,” he said. “I don’t think that’s right. “ He said the union should be lobbying TDs as an election looms to get the pension age back to 66 at a minimum.

Tom O’Connor, a worker director on the CIE board, said it was a very important motion and members should take a leaf out of French workers’ book as some of them can retire at 55.

“Wouldn’t that be nice?” he asked.

He said the union should campaign for a full old age pension for everyone, including women who have stayed at home to care for others.

Mr O’Connor said an anomaly that was previously described by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe as bonkers meant many women have been denied the full old age pension.

He said despite measures to try and address it, many still do not qualify for the full pension because of a cap of 20 years on the amount of credit they can claim for providing homecare.

“Not only should we be campaigning for a reduction in the old age pension age, we should campaign for a full pension for all people in the state,” he said.

Meanwhile, there is a threat of industrial action at Bus Éireann as the Nbru plans to ballot members over plans to privatise another 5pc of routes.

The union argues that a registered employment agreement brokered during a dispute on the tendering of 10pc of routes four years ago dictates that drivers’ jobs should be secure.

General secretary Dermot O’Leary predicted that drivers at GoAhead private bus operator will demand the same wages as Dublin Bus drivers.

He also revealed that drivers will refuse to work on new routes or route extensions unless sufficient toilets are provided due to a lack of facilities on existing routes.

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