Fórsa trade union welcomes today’s announcement by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, that she will facilitate access to Community Employment (CE) and Tús schemes for long-term unemployed jobseekers from June.
The investment into training and work opportunities is a positive step toward addressing the challenges of long term unemployment.
While the opening up of these schemes is welcome, it further highlights the need to urgently address the 10-year dispute in relation to pensions for CE supervisors and assistant supervisors.
Virtually uniquely in the public sector, the 1,250 staff employed as CE supervisors and assistant supervisors have no occupational pension provision at all.
A 2008 Labour Court recommendation, which ordered that an agreed pension scheme should be put in place for the staff, has never been either accepted or rejected by successive Governments.
Almost 250 supervisors have retired with no occupational pension since the 2008 Labour Court recommendation was published. Between 30 and 40 are currently retiring each year.
Last month, Fórsa’s community employment supervisors’ branch voted to reactivate an earlier ballot for industrial action because of the lack of progress on the issue. This course of action was previously shelved while negotiations appeared to hold out the prospect of some progress.
While today’s announcement is welcome, the failure to address the outstanding of pensions for CE supervisors puts the initiative at risk.