I propose to take Questions Nos. 224 to 226, inclusive, 232 and 238 together.
This issue relates to a claim by community employment supervisors and assistant supervisors who have been seeking, through their union representatives, the allocation of Exchequer funding to implement a 2008 Labour Court recommendation relating to the provision of a pension scheme.
In the context of the scoping out exercise referred to below this matter was the subject of extensive deliberation at the appropriate governmental level involving the relevant parties concerned. At Departmental level this particular matter has been considered in briefings with officials. However it remains the position that the community sector personnel concerned are not public servants and their terms and conditions of employment including the payment of pensions do not fall within public service provision.
Furthermore there has been extensive discussion of this issue at the Community Sector High Level Forum which was reconvened to examine certain matters pertaining to the Community Employment sector and in particular to ensure that the issues in question were fully examined having regard to both costs and precedent. The implications arising from this claim extend beyond the CE Supervisors and Assistant Supervisors cadre and impact across the entire Community and Voluntary sector.
A detailed scoping exercise was carried out by my Department in 2017 in order to comprehensively examine and assess the full potential implications of the issues under consideration.
The scoping exercise clearly illustrated that this matter presents very significant issues for the Exchequer, with a potential cost exposure for the State of between €188 million per annum and €347m depending on the size of the sector which is difficult to ascertain, were consequential demands to be made to fund employer pension contributions for all similar State funded Community and Voluntary organisations. This excludes any provision for immediate ex-gratia lump sum payment of pension for those imminently retiring, as sought, which could, depending on the size of the sector, give rise to a further Exchequer cost exposure of up to €318 million.
The Forum met in the period subsequent to the conduct of the scoping exercise where relevant matters in respect of this issue were discussed in comprehensive detail with the members of the Forum. These discussions provided a clear understanding to each of the parties of their respective positions in relation to this matter and in this context the formal engagement process between the parties was accordingly concluded on this basis.
It continues to be the position that state organisations are not the employer of the particular employees concerned and accordingly it is not for the State to provide funding for occupational pension scheme provision.