Staff at Dublin’s Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) have vowed to fight for the reinstatement of their occupational pension rights after the CRC board and management unilaterally stopped making payments into the fund last month. Management subsequently issued notice of termination of the contributory pension scheme, which covers almost 150 current and former staff who have over 1,000 years of service between them.
Staff who are members of the scheme have all been paying into it for a minimum of 15 years. They currently contribute 10% of their gross pay to the fund.
IMPACT has demanded access to the books so that it can make an actuarial assessment of the fund and test the legal validity of the scheme closure. The union is in negotiations with CRC management in an effort to re-establish related terms and conditions, and establish an equivalent pension scheme.
Management moved to close the scheme last month and subsequently called staff together to tell them their pensions were gone. This was done without consultation or negotiation with staff representatives, the Pension Board or the HSE, which funds CRC. Management claims the fund was carrying a €2.5 million deficit – less than 7% of its liabilities.
IMPACT official Ian McDonnell says the union is willing to negotiate measures to close any deficit that exists. “However, we are not going to accept that management can simply cancel the hard-saved pension provision that its staff have built up without bothering to look for ways of salvaging the scheme. Management’s disproportionate handling of a manageable deficit, and its thoroughly insensitive treatment of staff, are totally inept,” he said.
The union says similar or worse deficits in other schemes have been resolved though engagement with staff representatives. “We have demanded nothing less and, as a first step, we have engaged our own actuaries to examine the status of the fund,” said Mr McDonnell.
Mr McDonnell, who said he would also be pressing the HSE on the matter, has met CRC management and demanded discussions on correcting any deficit and securing a defined benefit pension scheme that protects the investment staff have made in their future.
The Central Remedial Clinic is a national organisation for children and adults with a primary physical disabilities. Its pension fund has 44 active members (members currently employed by CRC and contributing to the fund), about 50 deferred members (former CRC staff who expect to receive some pension benefits when they retire), and about 50 retired members (who currently receive pensions from the scheme).