I thank the Minister of State for coming into the House to take this matter. When I tabled this Commencement matter prior to Easter, I was reflecting a frustration as I have been continuously raising this issue about the pension scheme for community employment supervisors and assistant supervisors, along with others, for quite some time but I am glad that we now see that we have had progress over this weekend. I hope that a deal will be in place. I understand that SIPTU will be considering the matter today.
I thank my colleague, the Minister, Deputy Michael McGrath. I have been plaguing him about this issue for quite a while. I commend Deputy McGrath on his work to try to get a deal over the line, along with the Minister of State, Deputy Joe O'Brien, and the Minister, Deputy Humphreys.
Also, SIPTU needs to be thanked for all of its work on behalf of the workers concerned. This was a long-running campaign and, hopefully, it will reach fruition. Most importantly, the community employment supervisors and assistant supervisors themselves need to be thanked.
In Wexford, I am thinking of Colette, Rita, Helen, Margot and many others who have battled for a long time on this issue. We have to acknowledge the enormously valuable service that community employment, CE, schemes provide within our communities, particularly the training and support they provide to participants who are, in many cases, long-term unemployed, as well as the fact the schemes represent enormous value for money. As we come out of this pandemic, these schemes will be more important than ever. We will need an economic recovery but we will also need a community and social recovery, and in that context, CE schemes must be part of any Government strategy.
This deal has been a long time coming. As the Minister of State knows, the Labour Court recommendation dates from 2008. The reason we have industrial relations machinery in this country is to try to avoid disputes, and while I accept there can be problems with implementing recommendations, it is not acceptable that it has taken 13 years, effectively, to get to a stage where we now have a deal. In 2008 the Labour Court found against the funding agency, namely, the State, rather than any of the nominal employers, that is, the voluntary organisations concerned. It does not make sense that where the State 100% determines the terms and conditions of CE supervisors and expects them to act effectively as case officers on behalf of scheme participants, it would then seek to deny it is the employer. The approach that was taken on this until recently was wrong.
I have a number of questions about the deal that was announced at the weekend and I hope clarity can be provided. Clarity is certainly needed if we are looking at a gratuity lump sum. What are the tax implications of that? That issue must be considered. Will it be possible for those who are still employed as CE supervisors or assistant supervisors to roll the redress lump sum into an existing pension fund? Current supervisors will get the lump sum, but will that be used in future as part of the pension fund? It is important we have clarity on this but I am very happy it now seems we have a deal on the table. After 13 long years, we have finally seen progress and for that I am grateful.