Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD, says the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill proposes nothing but administrative fixes which will do nothing to help solve the pension crisis.
Speaking ahead of a debate in the Dáil today, Deputy O’Dea said the Bill has failed to change the priority order which applies when a defined benefit pension scheme is shut down.
Deputy O’Dea commented: “The current rules give absolute priority to existing pensions, this means that if a scheme winds up with insufficient funds, members who have not yet reached retirement age may recover only a small fraction of their entitlement.
“For example, a retired senior executive will have his or her full pension of €100,000 or €150,000 fully protected whereas a 64-year-old worker, weeks from retirement may be left with no pension rights at all.
“There is a general consensus that retired people on modest pensions should have their pensions protected. The key element of reform would be that retired people on high pensions should give a reasonable and proportionate contribution so that those who have not yet retired can save a fair portion of their pensions.
“Minister Burton has solemnly promised on several occasions to introduce this reform and tens of thousands of workers in defined benefit pensions schemes which are in deficit have once again seen their hopes dashed.
“These workers already face the closure of their pension schemes. A change in the priority order would help them salvage at least some of their pension. The Minister’s failure to introduce promised reform may condemn them to lifelong poverty.
“Fianna Fáil has prepared legislation to deal with this injustice. We will be putting forward this legislation shortly and social justice demands that the Minister accepts our proposals.
“By making a few changes to titles and administrative function in the Bill, the Minister is not addressing the real issues here.”