INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
TRANSPORT SALARIED STAFFS' ASSOCIATION
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Members over 55 years with Company pension who may opt for voluntary severance under voluntary severance agreements.
2. In 2001 an agreement on voluntary severance terms was agreed by the Company in respect of salaried staff deemed surplus in the context of the Cost Reduction / Change Process talks. To date 22 salaried staff have been facilitated with early retirement under voluntary severance arrangements, without 'top up' contributions. They therefore received Superannuation Scheme benefits in accordance with actual service at date of early retirement i.e. 'Discounted' benefits in accordance with Scheme rules. The 'discounted' arrangements were given statutory effect in 2000 and are based on a scaled discount calculated as a percentage of benefits computed on qualifying years service to date of retirement and related to years short of age 60 years.
The matter before the Court concerns a claim by the Union that salaried staff aged between 55 and 60 years have not been paid adequate monies under voluntary severance arrangements obtaining in Iarnrod Eireann. The Union claim that the Company, contrary to trade union agreements on Voluntary Severance, are paying larger lump sums to the employee as opposed to making the agreed financial contributions into the Pension Fund to make up any shortfall between age of leaving and 65 years.
The issue was referred to the Labour Court on the 11th October, 2004, in accordance with Section 20(1)of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 21st January, 2005.
The Union agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation.
3. 1. The Company, by offering employees aged over 55 who opt for Voluntary Severance, a lump sum rather than paying both company and employee contributions into the pension fund, are in breach of the Voluntary Severance Agreement.
2. The Union claim that the offering of a discounted pension is non compliant with any agreements on voluntary severance.
4. 1. 'Discounted' benefits were and are provided for in the CIE Superannuation Scheme 1951 rules consequent on negotiation and agreement with representative trade unions and therefore are legitimately issued.
2. The claim before the Court is prohibited under the terms of the national agreement on Social Partnership, Sustaining Progress
The Court has given careful consideration to the submissions made by both parties to the hearing on the 21st January, 2005.
The Court has formed the clear view, having taken into account the correspondence of 14th March, 2003 issued to the Group of Unions, SIPTU and NBRU, and the letter of 6th May to TSSA, that there are two bona fide sets of voluntary departure terms in existence confirmed by agreement with the Trade Unions.
The Court also notes that the departure dates of those personnel illustrated in the TSSA claim between June 2003 up to December 2004 have had effect since that correspondence and that they should therefore have been fully cognisant both of what had preceded and the more contemporaneous developments.
The Court also notes that those personnel who departed prior to normal retirement age did so on an entirely voluntary basis and received a reasonably large lump sum combined with a pension, albeit reduced, as opposed to solely a pension at retirement age.
The Court, in these circumstances, does not see merit in the TSSA claim for a restoration of retirement age pension entitlement in these cases, as those concerned have made a clear choice based on what appears to have been a reasonably adequate level of information at the time and have signed up to these terms.
The Court would, however, urge the Company to ensure at all times, the most comprehensive level of pension information, in circumstances such as these, so that personnel considering leaving the employment do so in full possession of all aspects affecting their pension and the level of discount which might prevail, as opposed to the benefit or attraction of a lump sum as part of a package.
The Court considers that consequential implications for the pension scheme are a matter for the Company and the representative trustees of the scheme who are charged with defined responsibilities in this matter.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th January 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Madelon Geoghegan, Court Secretary.