asked the Minister for Transport and Power if he is aware that the permanent workers employed by Bord na Móna have indicated that they will withdraw from the board's superannuation scheme unless a scheme similar to that available for ESB workers is provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Bord na Móna Superannuation Scheme.
I am not so aware. As I indicated in my reply to a question by the Deputy on 5th May, 1971, there is no fundamental difference between the way in which superannuation contributions and pension benefits are calculated for workers employed in the ESB and Bord na Móna. In the case of each body, the relevant legislation provides that the workers and the boards shall pay equal contributions to the superannuation funds. The percentage contribution rates in both bodies are determined actuarially and pension benefits are related to these contribution rates.
I might add that I had discussions during the summer with the Bord na Móna group of unions about further amendments to the new scheme for regular workers which I approved with effect from 4th June, 1970. The points raised by the unions are being examined at the moment in consultation with Bord na Móna and the Minister for Finance and I expect that a decision will be reached shortly.
Can the Minister say if one of the problems which was the subject of discussion between the board and the union has been the differential in the charges between Bord na Móna and the ESB? In Bord na Móna workers have to pay superannuation contributions on their earnings which can include seasonal overtime, whereas in the ESB the superannuation contribution is based on the flat wage only. Similar benefits are available in both bodies but in Bord na Móna the workers must pay considerably more and this is a grave source of dissatisfaction. Has that been the subject of consultation?
That was one of the central matters discussed between me and the Bord na Móna group of unions. It is one of a number of matters on which we are seeking to reach finality with a view to having the schemes on the same basis in regard to contributions and pensions.
Could the Minister say why it was not possible to have both schemes on the same footing from the beginning?
That is another day's work. We are on the way to settling it now.
That is not another day's work. That is the precise problem.
I spent three hours with the trade union concerned and we are very much on the same wavelength. The matter is in the course of being settled at present and I hope to be able to announce very shortly a solution to the problem on the lines of the Deputy's question.
Will the solution be along the lines that Bord na Móna will be put on the same footing as the ESB?
Not quite. There are certain problems but that is very much the idea.
Would the Minister say that negotiations of this kind in future are to be conducted in this House or between the Minister and Bord na Móna and the trade unions concerned? There appears to be little sense in a trade union group spending five or six months negotiating if the Minister can, across the floor of the House, give a decision on the matter.
No, I discussed this with Mr. Murphy, I think, the Secretary of the Rural Workers' Federation, and a number of other trade union officials during the summer and we had a very detailed and comprehensive meeting. Arising out of this meeting this progress has been made.
My point is that I do not see that trade unions should have to go to all the trouble they have taken to get this thing straightened out if it is made to appear as if it was a matter which could be settled by question and answer in this House.
I agree with the Deputy in that the matter has been teased out at the proper level.
Could the Minister make the announcement within the next few days as the dissatisfaction in Bord na Móna, certainly in County Longford, is very serious?