RMATUI Branch Bulletin, December 2020
RMA News Branch Update December 2020
Conscious that there has not been any opportunity to hold an RMA Branch Meeting since the start of the Covid 19 crisis, the Officers want to update you on some matters that you may not read about in the TUI News. What follows are reports on what the RMA and the Alliance of Retired Public Servants have been doing of late.
Since 2019, Deputy Brid Smith (PbP) has been working on amendments to the 1990 Industrial Relations Act which would facilitate access to the Labour Relations Commission for retired workers or their representative organisations. That process is ongoing, and she hopes to have the first stage of those amendments on the floor of the Dáil before Christmas. Amendments include several to the 1990 I.R. Act, and also amendments to the 1946 I.R. Act and the 1990 Pensions Act. Cross party support for the amendments will be needed to have them passed, and it will require lobbying to achieve this.
TUI Congress motions
Last Spring, the RMA with the help of TUI Branches, manages to get no.1 priority for Conference motions in several sections – Pay /Pensions, and Rule Changes notably. The campaign to have an Assistance Fund set up, for TUI and RMA members in need, has been successful. The Fund will be financed from both TUI members subs and RMA members subs. It will be managed by a committee representing both TUI and the RMA. This Committee will have its first meeting immediately after Congress 2021 – as elections must take place for the TUI representatives on the Committee.
The enabling rule change motions for the above were passed at Congress 2019 and at the Zoom Special Congress on November 7th 2020.
The other motion of significance for the RMA mandated the TUI to seek – with the ICTU – to ensure that no successor agreement to the PSSA (Public Service Stability Agreement) be completed unless ‘parity’ was preserved – ‘parity’ means that your pension remains tied to a max of 50% of the pay of a serving colleague, (depending on your service at retirement). The important significance of retaining parity at this time cannot be overstated. The terms of reference of the new Pensions Commission are available and make for sobering reading for all of us.
RMA events and Branches
Just as the TUI Easter Conference was cancelled, likewise the RMA Spring Break in Tralee and our AGM in Galway both fell foul of the pandemic. As a result, the RMA Management Committee and its Officer Board from 2019 remain in position until an AGM can be held – hopefully in May 2021.
The Alliance of Retired Public Servants
The Alliance has not been idle over the last 9 months, ‘though their Biennial General Meeting due to have been held in May was also cancelled. The Officer Board of the Alliance have met by Zoom several times and continued to campaign for its prioritised aims. Following the General Election, all Political Party leaders were written to, seeking to have the Alliance‘s aims included in the Programme for Government. Not only that, all 19 Independent T.Ds. were written to on the same basis. Following the formation of the Government, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform – Michael McGrath – was written to, seeking a meeting to explain to him in detail our priorities. Eventually we got an undertaking that he would meet us, but we still await a date. The Council of the Alliance – which represents over 140,000 retirees in 20+ organisations – has met via Zoom recently. The Alliance supports the proposed I.R. amendments coming from Deputy Brid Smith, and they are very conscious of the need to retain parity. In the event of Deputy Smith’s amendments being successful, it is highly likely that the Alliance would be recognised as the representative body for all retired public servants, for the purpose of talks at the LRC – Labour Relations Commission, or other Fora.
Restoration of Allowances 01/10/2020, CL 60/2020
Some Retired colleagues – who retired since 2009 – had allowances cut by either 5% or 8%. The final phase of the restoration of those Allowances was due on October 1st 2020. If you retired before the Allowances were cut, then your pension was already fully restored. There has been some confusion about this restoration, as it was described as an ‘increase’ in some quarters. Essentially, it is not possible to compare the max of the pay scale as of 01/10/20 with the max of a teacher who retired pre 2008. For example, the S & S payment was not available as a pensionable allowance then, but is now, so the value of that could not be included if attempting to make the comparison.
2021 beckons and we all hope for normality. Our colleagues at the chalk face have had a worrying 2020 judging by responses in the recent TUI News survey. Normality will come at a price!! It has already been said that there will be no increase in pay for the public service in 2021. That ‘freeze’ will apply also to us. The CSO website inflation calculator says that between September 2009 and October 2020 the CPI increased by 5.1% (using 2006 as base year – 100). Let us hope that the vaccines come in time to allow the economy to recover without another FEMPI.
Without having Branch meetings we are less aware of who else may have retired. Now you, as members, could help us if you are aware of a colleague who has bowed out lately. Encourage them to join us, refer them to our website, give them our email address or phone number, do something. Those of you who do not attend regularly at our Branch meetings should know that up to 50% of RMA Branch members have attended meetings in one school year. We are very happy with that, but the more of you that show up, the greater will be our confidence that we are of some use in representing you.
You may wonder that your help is needed to get new members. The truth is that we don’t live forever, there is turn-over. Then the GDPR – General Data Protection Regulations – which became law in May 2018 have done us no favours. TUI Head Office is not given the information from the ETBs, and even if they did, they are prevented from passing it on to the RMA. As a result of this difficulty, the RMA are now attempting to get the relevant rules of the Union amended to allow for a smoother migration from TUI to the RMA, but in the interim you can help as outlined above.
Hopefully the Branch will be able to resume normal activity in the Spring if we can get vaccinated. The Management Committee have already cancelled the Spring Break, as there is no certainty about when – as retired persons – we will be considered for vaccination, and no certainty either about the general re-opening of tourist venues – Parks, Museums, Galleries, etc.
Finally, Colleagues, have a wonderful – but safe – Christmas, and let’s hope for a healthy 2021.
Martin Hoye: RMA Chairperson
Dan Keane: RMA Secretary