Thursday, 16 December 2021
Ceisteanna (Atógáil) - Questions (Resumed) - Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
13. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if assurances can be provided to CIÉ workers in the regular wages scheme who have retired since June 2020 that the delay in his signing the statutory instrument to give effect to changes in the regular wages pension scheme will not result in them losing any of the improved benefits or lump sums once the statutory instrument is signed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62351/21]
I thank Deputy Duncan Smith for allowing me to raise this important issue as we hurtle towards Christmas. I think five times this year I have asked the Minister for Transport if and when he will sign the statutory instrument that will allow for an improved pension for CIÉ workers. Currently a CIÉ worker takes home a pension of €130 per week. If the Minister signed the statutory instrument, it would raise that pension to €160. It may not seem much to a Minister or Teachta Dála but it means a huge amount to those workers who spend a lifetime driving buses, trains etc. Will the Minister please address this?
I am taking this on behalf of the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan. I thank the Deputy for her question and the opportunity to update Deputies on the status of my Department's work on the CIÉ regular wages scheme.
As many in the House will be aware, the CIÉ Group has two pension schemes, namely, the regular wages scheme, RWS, and the 1951 superannuation scheme, and issues around the schemes are primarily a matter for the trustees of the schemes, the CIÉ Group and its employees. The CIÉ Group is actively engaged in introducing changes to both schemes aimed at rectifying the significant deficit in order to meet the statutory minimum funding standard required by the Pensions Authority.
A ballot of RWS members on a Workplace Relations Commission, WRC, proposal took place in June 2020 and was carried by 83% of those who voted. The proposed changes were agreed by the trustees of the schemes, the employees and the CIÉ Group following extensive and prolonged engagement between all parties. Following this process, CIÉ prepared and submitted draft statutory instruments to my Department to give effect to the proposed amendments, to establish a new defined contribution scheme and to consolidate the existing statutory instruments comprising the main scheme. These changes involve significant amendments that are necessary to address the minimum funding standard requirements. There are a number of steps involved before a statutory instrument can be made, including the statutory consultation process. Further, under the Transport Act 1950, the Minister must consult with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform on any amendments to CIÉ pension schemes. I can advise that this consultation is under way and I expect that the details will be settled shortly.
Once the final details have been settled, we will direct CIÉ to publish the amending schedules or schemes inIris Oifigiúilfor a consultation period of not less than 28 days as required under the Transport Act. The Minister must then consider any objections or representations which have been made during this period, prior to confirming a scheme or any amendments to such schemes. I am not in a position to comment on proposed aspects of the scheme prior to the approval of both Ministers and subsequent publication as part of the statutory consultation process.
I would also like to take this opportunity to again reassure the Deputy that officials in my Department, in conjunction with advisors from NewERA, have been working on the draft statutory instruments as expeditiously as possible. In this context, we hope to be in a position to confirm the schemes in early 2022.