Written Answers. - CIE Pension Scheme.

563.

asked the Minister for Communications when the new pension scheme for CIE workers will be introduced and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Following discussions between CIE and the trade unions regarding revisions in the pension scheme for CIE wages grades employees I considered the pension position generally of these employees and, having done so, I advised CIE on 1 November 1984, that the following improvements could be effected in the existing scheme.

(i) Updating of the existing levels of pension from a maximum of £16.50 per week to a maximum of £34.50 per week which when added to their social welfare pension will increase their present total level of pension of £64.75 per week for a single pensioner and £95.55 or £100.75 per week (depending on age of spouse) for a married pensioner to £82.75 per week for a single pensioner and £113.55 or £118.75 per week for a married pensioner;

(ii) pension may be paid to members who retire on ill-health grounds with at least ten years service irrespective of age instead of the present requirement that members must have completed 20 years service and be within ten years of the normal retirement age of 65 years; and

(iii) the existing death-in-service arrangement whereby a mortality grant is payable in respect of a member who had a minimum of 20 years service and was within ten years of the normal retiring age of 65 years is replaced by a provision that a lump sum of one year's pensionable pay will be payable in the case of all members having ten years service irrespective of age.

When the board of CIE, having completed their discussions with the unions, submit an amending scheme to me within the limits set out above, I will arrange for confirmation at the earliest possible date.

I have long been concerned about the protracted nature of the negotiations for improvements in the pensions of the CIE wages grades employees which has been to a great extent caused by the need to consider all the aspects of the matter and all of the options put forward by the trade union representatives. While the new public sector type scheme that I had hoped for has not proved acceptable to the majority of the union interests, leaving aside the question of its cost to the Exchequer, I feel that, particularly in the present economic climate, the improvements I have now sanctioned are by no means inconsiderable.