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Saturday 20 January 2018

Union leader under fire over bid to boost his pension pot

Anne-Marie Walsh

THE leader of a union for lower paid civil servants is under fire from his own members over claims he is attempting to boost his pension pot by an estimated €100,000.

Blair Horan, who earns €120,000-a-year as General Secretary of the Civil, Public and Services Union, has made a claim to increase his final salary for pension purposes before he retires.

The claim has been thrown out by the Executive Committee of the union, whose members' wages have been slashed by an average 14pc due to a pension levy and pay cut.

But sources said Mr Horan, who turns 60 next year, has insisted he will remain in his job until his retirement package is settled. Insiders said the union leader's claim would boost his final salary -- which is used to calculate his pension benefits -- by over €10,000.

They said this would add between €4,000 and €5,000-a-year to his annual pension and could be worth at least €100,000 over the course of his retirement. His basic pay is in the region of €114,000, plus an allowance of €6,000.

Most union leaders' pay levels are based on the assistant secretary general grade in the civil service, but Mr Horan's is based on the grade below this -- principal officer at the Department of Finance.

It is understood he inherited an allowance worth around €6,000 to make up the monetary difference between the grades.

However, the allowance did not rise with increases in assistant secretary wages or inflation and he is now seeking to have these increases reflected in his pension package.

Last night, Mr Horan, who is at the Rugby World Cup, defended the claim and said it would be worth €4,500-a-year at most to his annual pension.

"I am disappointed that somebody within CPSU waited until I was on leave and out of the country before leaking a biased version of events," he said.

"Because of the current difficult economic circumstances, I have offered to earn the pension claimed by extending my retirement by three years, from 60 to 63."

He said the dispute related to €6,000 of his salary, which is pensionable, but had not increased since it was first agreed in 1989.

"This matter has been unresolved now for over 10 years as I never accepted the arrangement when I was appointed General Secretary in 2000," he said.

He said, based on his salary of €120,000 and with 23 years' service, his annual pension would be around €34,000-a-year.

He said the pension issue had been referred to the Labour Relations Commission on his behalf by the union, but it was unwilling to attend a hearing.

Sources said the dispute was "bad timing" given members' pay cuts and has led to a major row.

A spokesperson at the CPSU said it does not comment on matters relating to individual members of staff.

Mr Horan announced his retirement at the union's annual delegate conference earlier this year.

The union's 11,000 members are among the lowest paid staff in the public service. They are mainly in the clerical officer grade in the civil service and earn roughly €32,000-a-year.

The union was in the spotlight when members took industrial action at the Passport Office last year after the Government cut public servants' wages.

Irish Independent

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