Community employment supervisors warn of strike ballot over access to pension scheme

Siptu sets mid-April deadline for Government to table proposals to resolve issue

In 2008 the Labour Court recommended that the State should put in place arrangements to give community employment scheme supervisors, who are not considered to be public service personnel, access to an occupational pension scheme. File photograph: iStock

In 2008 the Labour Court recommended that the State should put in place arrangements to give community employment scheme supervisors, who are not considered to be public service personnel, access to an occupational pension scheme. File photograph: iStock

 

Community employment scheme supervisors are to ballot for strike action if the Government does not table proposals by the end of next week to deal with a long-running dispute over access to a pension scheme.

The move would mark the reactivation of industrial action which saw hundreds of community employment scheme supervisors stage a one-day strike in February 2020, just before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (Siptu) said it had been informed by the Department of Social Protection in February 2021 that it had presented a consolidated proposal to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the pension issue.

However, Siptu said no proposals to resolve the dispute had been received from the Government nor had it been given any explanation for the delay.

Siptu sector organiser Jane Boushell told members in a bulletin that if a proposal to resolve the pension dispute was not received by April 17th, the union would begin the process of balloting community employment scheme supervisors for industrial and strike action.

Occupational pension scheme

There are more than 1,200 community employment scheme supervisors who oversee about 900 State-funded services ranging from childcare to meals on wheels. However, they are not considered to be public service personnel.

In 2008 the Labour Court recommended that the State should put in place arrangements to give them access to an occupational pension scheme.

However, there have been strong concerns within the Government at the potential costs involved in such a move as well as in relation to knock-on implications.

In April 2018 then minister of state at the Department of Public Expenditure Michael D’Arcy said community employment supervisors were employees of private companies and not of the State.

He said it could cost the State up to €188 million a year to pay for pensions for staff in exchequer-funded community and voluntary organisations, as well as a further €318 million for ex gratia lump sums.