Union: TD pension loophole 'salt in wounds' of younger teachers
on 13/11/2012 00:00:00
The measure in the Public Service Pensions Act 2012 has been defended by Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin. He says it is to reflect the different circumstances for politicians who have to seek re-election every few years to keep their jobs, even though those who did not seek re-election will also benefit if they get back into the Dáil or Seanad.
However, the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, which argued against the new scheme because future teachers will accrue lower pensions than some colleagues, said there was no justification for treating politicians differently to all other public servants.
"Teachers and many other workers are finding it increasingly difficult to get regular employment and many new teachers lack any security of tenure. These ordinary workers have no exemption from this unfair legislation," said INTO deputy general secretary Noel Ward.
"For them, finding another job is similar to a TD seeking re-election. The sight of a special case being made for TDs and senators and their former colleagues is like rubbing salt in a wound. It is a case of one law for one group and a different law for others."
When Mr Howlin rejected Sinn Féin's proposal to delete the measure in June, he was supported by Fianna Fáil, which only returned 19 of more than 50 sitting TDs who contested last year's general election.
However, Fianna Fáil TDs and senators voted against the bill because of opposition to other aspects.
The party's public expenditure and reform spokesman Sean Fleming said the topic was "tricky" as the circumstances in which politicians faced elections were different from those facing other public servants.
"One can be sacked whether one likes it or not, which might not be connected to one's work rate but might be connected to the political mood," he said during the Dáil debate.
He even appeared to suggest that first-time TDs or senators after the next elections might also be allowed into the older, higher-paying pension scheme for equality reasons.
"There is a case to be made that the salary and pension entitlements should be equal for all those elected to the next Dáil and not to have a different arrangement for those who are fortunate to have been elected five or eight years previously," he told the Dáil in July.
A spokesperson for Mr Howlin told the Irish Examiner last week that he has no plan at this time to use another section of the act under which he can end the exemption from the new pension scheme for former TDs and senators by ministerial order.