The Employment Equality (Abolition of Mandatory Retirement Age) Bill 2016 is being brought forward by Deputies John Brady and Denise Mitchell.
Sinn Fein spokesperson for Social Protection, John Brady TD, will be calling for the abolition of the mandatory retirement age when Sinn Fein’s Bill is debated in the Dail on Thursday, 23/02/17.
Teachta Brady said:
“Every year workers are forced to retire for no other reason than their age.
“This Bill seeks to put an end to this discrimination and gives workers a choice when it comes to their retirement.
“There are a number of exemptions in this Bill for those who work in security related employment such as An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces.
“This is a Bill about choice for older workers when it comes to their retirement. Instead of being obliged to retire without any choice whatsoever at 65 or 66 years old, workers will be able to decide if they would like to retire immediately or continue working.
“This Bill will also address two major pension issues:
1/ It will end the current practice of those forced to sign on for Jobseekers payments at 65 for one year until they are eligible for the State Pension at 66.
2/ It will give people who have insufficient contributions for the State Pension an opportunity to continue at work to make up the additional contributions to avoid a reduced pension if they so wish.
“Last month, Minister Varadkar announced that it was his intention to make mandatory retirement ages illegal. Fianna Fáil have been consistently in favour of the abolition of mandatory retirement and also tabled a similar Bill after this once it was introduced last December.
“I am calling on both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to support this Bill for the benefit of all workers.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has said when it comes to protecting workers’ pensions, Minister Varadkar does not want to know.
Deputy Brady was speaking last night during Fianna Fáil’s Private Members Business on the need to tackle the issues around defined benefit pension schemes.
The Wicklow TD said:
“Last week, Sinn Féin launched a Bill to ensure that no company with positive net revenues or which has a parent company with positive net revenues would be allowed to close a defined benefit scheme unless this scheme has reached a minimum 90% funding standard.
“Our Bill would prevent a similar situation to what happened last November in Independent News & Media. This would send a clear message to profitable companies that you will not be allowed to simply decide to renege on and walk away from your obligations to your employees.
“Minister Leo Varadkar’s excuse for doing nothing to protect employees is for fear of ‘threatening a company’s financial stability’ or ‘rendering some employers insolvent’. However, we are talking about companies who are profitable and therefore, the Minister’s argument makes no sense.
“The Minister’s rhetoric of his Department scrutinising issues around defined benefit pension schemes is achieving nothing and this is not good enough for workers in this State.
“Theinaction by Government sends out a message to companies right across this State that they are free to consciously wind down defined benefit schemes and walk away from their pension obligations. Sinn Féin absolutely oppose this.
“Despite some concerns, Sinn Féin will support this Bill, but we will be looking at ways to improve this Bill to ensure maximum protection for workers.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has today introduced a Bill to ensure an end to solvent companies walking away and reneging on their pension obligations to their employees.
The Pensions (Amendment) Bill 2017 was introduced today by Deputy Brady and is co-sponsored by Deputies Denise Mitchell and David Cullinane.
Teachta Brady said:
“In recent years, there has been a concerted effort to close defined benefit schemes regardless of the health of the company. We know this is happening; we saw it most recently in Independent News & Media.
“According to the Irish Association of Pension Funds, the number of active defined benefit schemes has fallen from just over 1,200 at the end of 2006 to less than 500 today. The number of active members in those schemes has dropped from 270,000 to 126,000 at the end of last year.
“In reviewing our pension system in 2012, the OECD clearly identified the allowing of healthy sponsors to walk away from DB pension plans, shutting them down, as another weakness of Irish legislation.
“If we, as legislators, do not address what Independent News & Media have done then we
are allowing other companies to do the same. We are saying that this is acceptable and we are actively leaving the door open for other companies to do the same.
“This Bill implements the OECD recommendation which, had legislation been strengthened at that time, the wipe out of members’ pensions at Independent News and Media would not have been allowed.
“I am calling for cross-party support for this Bill so we can send a very clear message to companies that they will not be allowed to consciously wind down their defined benefit pension plans and renege on their pension commitments to members.”
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has warned Minister Varadkar not to get carried away with figures.
Speaking in relation to newly released long term unemployment figures Teachta Brady said:
“It’s easy for Minister Varadkar to pat himself on the back today announcing long term unemployment at 4.2%. However, we have to ask ourselves what sort of employment is being taken up.
“There is huge concern with the numbers of people who are underemployed – languishing in part-time jobs, willing to work longer but the hours are not available to them.
“These are people in precarious employment, with zero hour contracts and as a result, have no job security whatsoever.
“In fact, Ireland’s rate of underemployment is one of the highest in the European Union.
“The extent that Family Income Supplement is being used by employers as a top up payment to low wages and low hours for those on low incomes, particularly lone parents, is unknown but exists.
“Along with that we have job activation schemes, many of which are at the least questionable.
“When we consider the hundreds of thousands of people who were forced out of the country, those forced into precarious part-time work and those in job activation schemes, the numbers the Minister is trumpeting tell an altogether different story.”
Minister Varadkar continues Fianna Fáil’s discrimination against young people – John Brady TD
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Social Protection and TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has said that Minister Varadkar has made a clear choice to continue Fianna Fáil’s discrimination against young people.
Teachta Brady said: “Yesterday, Minister Varadkar confirmed that the €5 increase in social welfare payments announced in Budget 2017 will go to everyone except those under 26 years of age.
“The increase amount is therefore, dependent on a recipients age alone.
“Those on Jobseekers aged 18-24 will receive an increase of €2.70 and those aged 25 will receive €3.80.
“Under 26s are the one and only group of social welfare recipients set to receive less than €5 in their payment.
“Just as Fianna Fáil singled out this cohort of young people so too is Minister Varadkar.
“Last month Deputy Willie O’Dea criticised the reduced amount for the under 26s and said that Fianna Fáil would work to reverse this. If his party’s concerns are genuine then Fianna Fáil will oppose the upcoming Social Welfare Bill. If not, we will see yet another U turn from the party.
“Unlike, most of what Fianna Fáil have done since the last election their message for under 26s has certainly been consistent – live on your €100 a week and be grateful or emigrate.
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has said that despite talk, the minority Government continue with stealth cuts to those who are most in need. Deputy Brady was referring to the new measure whereby those in receipt of Back to Education Allowance may now have their payment reduced in accordance to part time hours worked.
Teachta Brady said: “In April of this year, changes to the Back to Education Allowance came into effect which will impact all new applicants for this allowance. Previously part-time work during the academic year did not affect the rate paid.
“Now these changes mean that from the 2016/2017 academic year, the allowance will be reduced in accordance with the quantity of part-time hours worked.
“The costs associated with returning to college are huge and we know that many students already struggle at this time of year.
“While the Government continue to talk about the economic recovery and their success in creating it, the cuts have not ended. This particular cut lies in stark contrast to the Government’s rhetoric of assisting people to return to education by making it even harder.
“This pick pocketing measure needs to be reviewed and reversed immediately.
“I have highlighted this issue to the Minister through a Parliamentary Question and I await his response.”