"That Dáil Éireann:
— Community Employment (CE) schemes provide much needed services in communities throughout the country, and that the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is now responsible for these schemes;
— CE schemes are designed to help those in long-term unemployment, who are disadvantaged or find it impossible to get mainstream work in their local communities;
— there are 25,000 citizens on schemes and they are managed and organised by 1,250 supervisors and assistant supervisors;
— the work of CE supervisors and assistant supervisors is integral to the overall success and implementation of the CE schemes;
— this pension grievance has been ongoing since the early 2000s and records show that some progress was made with the introduction of the Health Service Executive Home Help model;
— unions were informed that this model would form a basis for the CE supervisor pension issue;
— in July 2008, the Labour Court recommended that an agreed pension scheme should be introduced for CE supervisors and assistant supervisors, and that such a scheme should be adequately funded by FÁS, the funding agency responsible for CE at that time;
— FÁS attended the Labour Court hearing in 2008;
— a number of local authorities are already providing pensions to a small number of CE supervisors;
— under the Lansdowne Road Agreement, it was agreed to set up a high level forum to examine how to resolve this longstanding issue;
— the high level forum was set up, chaired by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and it outlined the costs involved to resolve this longstanding issue in November last; and
— since late 2017, a meeting has been promised between the unions representing this small group and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, but it has yet to be arranged;
accepts that the pension issue for CE supervisors and assistant supervisors has been left unresolved for far too long; and
— industrial action to be avoided as it will have a very negative impact on local communities;
— a resolution and a satisfactory pathway to be found to address the pension issue for the 1,250 CE supervisors and assistant supervisors, based on the Labour Court recommendation of 2008;
— the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to immediately meet with unions that represent the CE supervisors and assistant supervisors so that negotiations can commence with a view to creating a process to bring this issue to finality; and
— the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to make available, even if it is on an incremental basis, the financial resources to address this issue."
I will share time with Deputies Mary Butler, Pat The Cope Gallagher, John Curran, Sean Fleming and Robert Troy.
The community employment schemes were introduced when the country was wracked by unemployment, so much so that social cohesion was under threat. The schemes have proved to be a great panacea for the country. They have assisted individuals by giving them a sense of purpose and assisted communities in various ways which my colleagues will outline. The schemes would not have been the success they have been if they had not been manned by able supervisors. The position of community employment supervisor is one that requires a unique set of skills and vocational attachment to the job. I know many supervisors who work far beyond the call of duty. Many people in this country are in receipt of pensions from the public purse for work that is less difficult and, in some cases, less important than that done by community employment supervisors.
On 22 July 2008, the Labour Court ruled that an agreed pension scheme be introduced for community employment scheme supervisors. I must stop because not one member of the Government is present.