Wednesday 22 May 2019

Cork CE supervisors to join strike action over pension row

Bill Browne

Community Employment (CE) supervisors from Cork are due to, next Monday, join colleagues from across the country in five days of industrial action in a bid to get a pension.

The Fórsa and SIPTU trade unions are in the final stages of arranging the first day of strike action, which will coincide with a series of daily protests by CE supervisors around the country. 

Fórsa official Brendan O'Hanlon said the protests would take place outside Intreo (social welfare) offices in Galway and Waterford and political constituency offices in Cork, Limerick, Dublin, Galway, Donegal and Portlaoise. 

"We will be arranging protests in these locations each day of strike action and will be taking the opportunity to canvas the public to support our campaign of action in the run up to the local and European elections on May 24," said Mr O'Hanlon. 

He said that the 1,250 staff concerned have no access to any occupational pension scheme, despite a 2008 Labour Court recommendation that ruled in their favour. 

Unions have said that nest week's industrial action, which follows on from a one-day stoppage by CE supervisors and assistants in February, could still be averted if Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe agrees to meet officials to discuss the Labour court recommendation. 

The Court said an agreed pension should be introduced and adequately funded by the recognised funding agency. Unions have said this responsibility falls upon the Government. 

Mr  O'Hanlon said that officials had met with the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, last Thursday. 

"The meeting was initially arranged to discuss the union's concerns over non-compliance with an enhanced redundancy agreement for CE supervisors, but did include some discussion about pensions, the issue behind next week's planned industrial action," he said. 

While union officials described the meeting as "constructive", their concerns over the pensions issues went largely unaddressed with the result that the industrial action is still scheduled to go ahead. 

SIPTU sector organiser Eddie Mullins said union members had decided to go ahead with the action "because all other options have been exhausted." 

"This action will inevitably disrupt the wide range of community services delivered locally by community employment schemes around the country," he warned. 

"The only was this can be averted is for Minister Donohoe to agree to meet us to discuss the implementation of the 2008 Labour Court recommendation," he added.