There are currently approximately 150000 retired public servants and until the establishment of the alliance of retired public servants there was no one to represent their concerns. The need for some type of representative body was suddenly realised when our pensions were reduced under the FEMPI legislation. An informal group was set up in 2012 which initially involved representatives of retired IMPACT members, the RMA, the RSTA and a very small number of other groups. This eventually became the Alliance of Retired Public Servants. The TUI was particularly helpful to the Alliance at that stage of its development. The Alliance was formally constituted in January 2014, and the third biennial general meeting will take place in September. Progress initially was slow, but especially since our last AGM there have been a number of very significant developments. Issues that have been addressed include the restoration of parity, elimination of the inequity pertaining to pensioners who retired after February 2012, a timetable for further pension restoration for pre March 2012 retirees, and increases for people with very small pensions. The lowest paid pensioners will receive increases backdated to September 2017.
In relation to the current situation we need to look at two groups of retired public servants:
- Pre March 2012
- Post February 2012
The current pension restoration for pre March 2012 retirees is.
- In January 2018 pensions up to €34,132 were fully restored.
- In January 2019 pensions up to €39,000 will be fully restored.
- In January 2020 pensions up to €54,000 will be fully restored.
These improvements of the situation while significant are disappointing in two respects
- The timescale outlined for restoration is too long.
- There is no definite latest date for full pension restoration for those on pensions above €54000.
As regards the post February 2012 retirees, the injustice of having a pension based on reduced salary has been recognised. They will receive pension increases in line with the pay increases received by their serving peers. While this is a positive development, the timescale for equalisation of pensions is too long.
The restoration of the link is temporarily resolved.
The link between pensions and salaries of serving peers, which was broken in 2009, has been restored, but it is not guaranteed beyond 2020. We need to be aware that there is legislation in place (but not signed) to link our pension to the consumer price index (CPI). While this would be of benefit in the short term it would be not be in the long term.
Currently the ARPS do not have negotiating rights. As a grace and favour the Alliance officers meet regularly with the Minister and his officials to voice the concerns of retired public servants and demand certain things. There is a definite need for government to provide statutory negotiating rights for the Alliance.
Priorities of the Alliance
The current priorities for the Alliance of Retired Public Servants are:
- Restoration of pensions with the removal of all outstanding PSPR levies
- Retention of parity with serving colleagues
- Statutory negotiating rights.
While the Alliance has achieved much, especially in the last year, if further progress is to be made, it
is important that along with other retired public servants we all are involved in lobbying our local representatives. This is a task that cannot be left just to branch or national representatives. We have to create the impression with politicians how big our numbers are and that we are prepared to use our only weapon – our vote – to get what we want.