Siptu staff at St Patrick’s Mental Health Services vote for strike

Ballot follows the closure of the facility’s defined benefit pension scheme

The group of unions in St Patrick’s Mental Health Services will now meet  to discuss the result of the ballot, and decide on the next course of action

The group of unions in St Patrick’s Mental Health Services will now meet to discuss the result of the ballot, and decide on the next course of action

 

Siptu members working in St Patrick’s Mental Health Services have voted for strike action following the closure of the facility’s defined benefit pension scheme.

The closure will take effect from June 2nd, and will impact 274 active members and 224 deferred members of the pension plan.

The scheme was set up in 2005 when the hospital’s existing defined benefit scheme ran into funding difficulties. St Patrick’s Mental Health Services said it transferred €17 million in additional funding to the new scheme at that point.

The new scheme fell back into deficit in 2008, at which point a “funding agreement” was reached with unions. As part of that the hospital committed to contribute €1 million a year to the scheme for 11 years beginning January 2013.

Siptu organiser Aideen Carberry said the ballot led to 98 per cent of Siptu members working at the hospital voting to take strike action.

“This result clearly demonstrates that our members are not willing to accept a scenario where their employer makes important decisions pertaining to their lives without consultation or negotiation with their union, ”said Ms Carberry.

Contributions

“In March members of the St Patrick’s Mental Health Services staff defined benefit pension scheme were advised that the employer would be ceasing contributions and would transfer its funds to a defined contribution scheme. There was no discussion with the workers’ unions concerning this closure, a position which is completely unacceptable to our members.”

The group of unions in St Patrick’s Mental Health Services will meet on Thursday afternoon to discuss the result of the ballot, and decide on the next course of action.

In response, St Patrick’s said the decision to close the scheme was communicated to both staff and unions in March and they were offered a meeting.

It said there is a general acknowledgement, supported by the on-going pension scheme valuations, that the financial position, “while healthy at present is likely to deteriorate over the coming years”.

“ This represents a significant risk to the members of the scheme and to the organisation,” it said.

It has therefored decided to exercise its right under the funding agreement to close the scheme immediately and has written to the trustees, it said.

“The organisation will be honouring the full terms of the funding agreement which was put in place in 2008 when the 2005 Scheme fell into deficit,” it said.

“This amounts to paying approximately €7m into the pension scheme.”