asked the Minister for Transport and Power if he is aware that according to published information furnished by the Department of Finance proposals for a pension scheme for Bord na Móna workers put forward for the consideration of his Department and Bord na Móna and stated to be to the advantage of the pensioners concerned would be implemented if accepted; and if he will make available to the employees and pensioners of Bord na Móna and the trade unions a copy of these proposals for the consideration of the board's employees.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Bord na Móna Pension Scheme.
I would refer the Deputy to my reply to a question asked by him on this matter on 4th November, 1969. I am informed by Bord na Móna that the Board has communicated proposals for an amending scheme to the trade union catering for its employees and that these proposals are at present under discussion by both parties.
I regret I was unable to be present when the Minister answered the question before. Would the Minister say why the Department of Finance, who do not appear to have any say in this at all, should have sent proposals for the approved scheme to Bord na Móna and not to the trade unions or the workers concerned, and while the original scheme was under discussion with Bord na Móna and the workers the Department of Finance seem to have published a proposal which we believe they had no right to make at all? Could the Minister say why this was done?
The Deputy is aware that those pension schemes are supposed to have some relation to similar schemes for manual workers in the public service. When the Minister for Finance became aware there was a desire for an improvement in the pension scheme he set out the main basis for it. Then, of course, it comes before the trade unions in order to have some relevance in the pension scheme. The Deputy should know that.
Would the Minister not agree that the trade unions and the workers are as much entitled to know what the proposals are as are the employers? Would the Minister not agree that to send the proposal to the employers — without notifying the people who are going to be affected by the scheme—through one of his backbenchers from the country is not the proper way to deal with these things?
No one was given any details of the scheme prior to its being submitted to Bord na Móna. As I understand it, Bord na Móna are obliged to submit any such scheme to the trade unions concerned and, if they wish to have some amendments referred to the Minister for Finance, that can be done.
It was through the Minister for Finance that it came first. Bord na Móna got a copy of the proposal. Can the Minister say why the trade unions were not given a copy at the same time? Was it just a gimmick?
I do not think there was any particular reason why it was not submitted to the trade unions. Obviously, it had to be examined by Bord na Móna, but the trade unions will not lose anything in the examination of it; they will not lost any rights in examining it or in suggesting amendments which can then be sent back to Bord na Móna and, in turn, to the Minister for Finance. As far as I know, the trade unions have not lost anything. The Minister for Finance insists that there be some relevance in pension schemes for manual workers as between one State body and the public service generally. This has been tradition. I do not think that the trade unions will be disappointed if, in fact, it bears a relevance and is not grossly in excess, for example, of a pension scheme made available to some other public body.
The other employees of the State have no pension scheme. We are afraid that this is a half-baked scheme devised for the employees of the State and dumped on to Bord na Móna as an excuse to try it out.
The Deputy will find that it is an improvement.
Is the Minister aware that there are most appalling delays in connection with these pension schemes in the Department of Finance? These delays are not just of a month or two but of years?
I am not so aware.
It is true.