Autumn the season of change has arrived, but little has changed as we are still lobbying for pension restoration and the repeal of Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) Act.
Lobbying of local TDs by RMA members is very important, as it greatly assists the work being done by officers of the Alliance in their meetings with the political parties. The outcome of these meetings so far is as follows:
Meeting with Sinn Fein
They do not see restoration of all pensions as a priority. They are only interested in people with low and medium incomes. However, they are opposed to the use of emergency legislation to control pay and pensions.
Meeting with Fianna Fail
Their pre-election and post-election positions are consistent – they favour full restoration of pensions within 2 years. They are, of course, still not in government.
Meeting with Labour
They favour full restoration of pensions by the end of 2018.
Meeting with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donoghue
Our representatives were very critical of the Fine Gael position of full restoration by 2021, pointing out that they are the only party with that position. There are many pensioners who will not live to see full restoration in that scenario.
They objected to FEMPI currently being used as a fiscal weapon, not because of an emergency.
They pointed out that the overall cost of restoration was 45 million euro, a very small percentage of total expenditure.
They looked for restoration now rather than later. They pointed out the anomalies caused by FEMPI.
The Minister indicated that he and his officials would be available to meet Alliance representatives on a regular basis for discussions, continuing the arrangements initiated by his predecessor. He also agreed to the Alliance being represented at the talks next year on pay between unions and government.
He referred to the fact that we would benefit from the USC reductions in the forthcoming budget.
The Alliance officers will set up further meetings with non-government parties now that the meeting with the Minister has taken place. Lobbying at local level by retired public servants before the Finance Bill would be very helpful in this regard.
So far this term, branch meetings have taken place in Dublin, Cork, Carlow, Louth, The Midlands, and Meath. I would remind members that our constitution allows a member to participate in whichever branch is nearest to them. This time of the year is also time for Branch AGMs. Branch Officers should note that they should update us when there are changes, and perhaps should take a look at the constitution on the website regarding requirements. If funding is required from the RMA, the Branch Treasurer should submit a statement of expenditure for the year. This should be submitted in any event after the Branch AGM.
The membership of the RMA is constantly changing. Each year, members pass, others forget to renew, but of course we get new blood too, this year over 70 new members have joined already, but we knew that there are many more out there. On behalf of the RMA Officers and Management Committee, I want to thank the President, Vice-President, General Secretary and the TUI Area Representatives for their work in encouraging retirees to join the RMA, and their help in encouraging Branches to fund the first year’s subscription for new RMA members.
By now all RMA members have received their TUI Diary. But remember, if you don’t pay your subscription, don’t expect to be on the mailing list in future. We encourage members whose pensions are paid by PSSC (retirees from VECs/ETBs/Its) to complete the ‘consent’ form available on www.rmatui.ie and send it to our Treasurer, or any Officer of the RMA. In competing that form you need your payroll number. This is also the payment reference on your bank statement opposite your Pension Credit Transfer. It is also on the top of P60 to the right of your name, and of course it’s on any pension slip you have on file.
Our Autumn Break took us to the Sligo Park Hotel and Leisure Club. The three day event from October 11th through 14th was well attended with 50 members participating. The package included a visit to Tobernalt Holy Well, Lough Gill scenic drive, a boat trip on Lough Gill, Glencar waterfall and Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery on the Wednesday. On the Thursday, we took the Gleniff Horseshoe drive, Mullaghmore scenic drive, and a visit to Belleek Pottery. A very enjoyable time was had by all; I would like to compliment Furey’s Bus Hire Sligo on their excellent service to us during our visit to Sligo, thanks Paul. Now having enjoyed a successful visit to the North West, we look forward to visiting the South East for our Spring Break, which is scheduled for Clayton Whites Hotel Wexford on 27th /28th /29th March 2017; full details will be available on www.rmatui.ie shortly.
Finally, I want to encourage all retired TUI members to
a) to join RMATUI if you haven’t already done so and
b) to attend at least some RMA Branch meetings.
Most branches have a social and/or cultural dimension, with theatre/cinema visits, guest speakers at meetings, Christmas lunches, trips and so on. National Officers of the RMA regularly attend the local meetings to provide updates on the work of the Management Committee, our ‘dialogue’ with TUI and reports from the Alliance of Retired Public Servants.
Dan Keane, RMA Secretary