Pensions and the State as employer

 

Sir, – Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe makes a fine case for the quality of employment in the public service (“Let’s not forget the State is a good employer”, Opinion & Analysis, April 22nd). In the course of his article he writes that public servants benefit from defined benefit pension arrangements. What he fails to mention is that many thousands of semi-State employees who supplied the nation with vital services over their lifetimes in the ESB, Bord na Mona, Coillte, RTÉ and many others have not had any pension increase in the past 10 years.

Most importantly, it was a condition of their employment that they would never qualify for a contributory State pension. Since 2008 the contributory old-age pension has increased by 16 per cent. The Government imposed a levy which reduced pensions by 2.5 per cent. In the case of RTÉ, for example, the actuary of the RTÉ superannuation scheme recommended a 2.25 per cent increase over a year ago and the scheme meets the statutory minimum funding standard. The Minister has refused to sanction even this increase which would only restore pensions to pre-levy levels.

Semi-State company defined benefit schemes are by law under the control of the Minister for Finance. Ten years is a long time in any lifetime but has particular significance if you are in your seventies and eighties. The Minister concludes with the mantra that this Government remains committed to being a good employer. Extraordinarily hollow words for all those who worked a lifetime in our semi-State companies. Finally, to add insult to injury, the Taoiseach when asked about this dismissed the matter by saying these Semi-state pensions were all private. If they were private and the actuary recommended an increase, it would happen. So much for the quality of employment in the public service. – Yours, etc,

TONY O’CONNOR,

Dublin 16.

Sir, – The Minister for Finance says that the State is a good employer. Perhaps, but it is quite tardy regarding paying monies due to pensioners. A progressive reduction to the levy (PSPR) placed on the pensions of civil and public servants was agreed some time ago. When my pension levy showed no sign of reduction this year, I phoned the Payroll Shared Service Centre recently about the matter. It told me that its payroll software was unable to handle the reduction and that it has established a task-force to calculate the reduction required for each pensioner separately. This will clearly take some considerable time to carry out.

It would be appreciated if the Minister would issue a statement on the matter explaining when the levy will be reduced as agreed and when the arrears from January 1st will be paid. – Yours, etc,

WILLIAM ROE,

Ranelagh,

Dublin 6.