UPDATED FRIDAY 8 JULY
Staff at Dublin’s Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) have voted in favour of industrial action in an escalation of a row over the closure of their contributory pension scheme. The ballot for industrial action was passed with 93% in favour. The ballot result was announced today (Friday 8th July) ahead of a meeting with CRC management this afternoon.
IMPACT, which has been in talks with CRC management since it collapsed the scheme last month, says industrial action looks inevitable unless agreement can be reached on the re-establishment of pension provision equivalent to that in the collapsed scheme.
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 says it wants to make its own actuarial assessment of the fund and test the legal validity of the scheme closure. But management has refused it access to the books. The agency claims the fund is carrying a €2.5 million deficit – less than 7% of its liabilities. But IMPACT believes the scheme is not in deficit to this extent.
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.
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. Mr McDonnell said IMPACT was open to discuss measures to correct any deficit and secure 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).