CIÉ faces pension deficit of nearly €1bn, Oireachtas committee told

Two pension schemes must be ‘de-risked urgently’, says group’s chairwoman

There are two pension schemes in operation for workers in the three CIÉ companies, Iarnród Éireann, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann. Photograph: Arthur Carron/Collins

There are two pension schemes in operation for workers in the three CIÉ companies, Iarnród Éireann, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann. Photograph: Arthur Carron/Collins

 

The State-owned CIÉ group of transport companies is facing a deficit in its pension schemes of close to €1 billion, its chairwoman designate has told an Oireachtas committee.

Fiona Ross said the accrued liabilities of the pension schemes had increased significantly last year.

She said the accrued liabilities exceeded the pension schemes’ assets by €970 million at the end of 2020.

Ms Ross said the pension scheme deficits was a key component of the weakness in the CIÉ group’s financial position.

She said this was is a priority concern for CIÉ “as it puts the long- run security of pension provision for our workers at risk”.

“As chair and with my board it is increasingly urgent that measures are taken to de-risk the schemes and provide for the long-run sustainability of pension provision.”

There are two pension schemes in operation for workers in the three CIÉ companies, Iarnród Éireann, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann. The schemes are the regular wages scheme, which covers about 6,500 front-line staff; and the 1951 managerial scheme, which has about 2,200 members.

Revised proposals

Ms Ross told the committee on Tuesday that in order to meet the minimum funding standard within a time frame to be agreed with the Pension Authority, revised funding proposals from the trustees and committee of the two schemes were required to be submitted that addressed the existing deficits in both.

“The proposals which emerged from the Workplace Relations Commission- facilitated process represent the optimum that can be achieved on this matter,” she said. “I am pleased to say that these proposals were accepted by the membership of the regular wages scheme in June 2020.”

“The regular wage scheme is primarily composed of our front-line workers. A Labour Court recommendation on proposals for the managerial scheme – the so-called 1951 scheme – has been accepted by CIÉ as the sole basis for developing a revised funding proposal for this scheme and there is a ballot of members currently under way.”

Ms Ross said the transport group now had “a unique challenge to recover our business and to ensure the post-pandemic recovery is a sustainable one”.

She said that ensuring the financial stability of the group would ensure that it could play a leading role in the nation’s recovery from Covid-19.

“The CIÉ Group plays and integral role in delivering a national strategy for decarbonisation and is prioritising its climate change responsibilities. Being the largest public transport provider and one of the largest landowners in Ireland, the CIÉ Group is in a unique position to provide smarter travel options and contribute to a sustainable economy.”