Dáil Éireann - Volume 409 - 19 June, 1991

Written Answers. - Railway Workers' Pensions.

78. Mr. Farrelly asked the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications the reason railway workers with over 40 years service receive a pension of only £24.50 per week which equates to 50 pence for every year they work; his views on whether this is a fair system; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications (Mr. S. Brennan): CIE group wages staff are members of the CIE wages grade pension scheme. Membership of the scheme is compulsory on appointment for all regular wages staff aged between 20 and 50.

The appropriate pension payable is based on members basic pay on retirement and is not service related. Therefore wages staff with as little as 15 years service can receive a full CIE pension at age 65. Pension rates are adjusted periodically and since 1985 there have been three such adjustments, the latest with effect from 1 February 1991.

The pension of £24.50 per week mentioned in the Deputy's question is the amount that would be appropriate to a person retiring on a basic wage between £120 and £125 per week. There is no category of rail staff who would fall within this wage band. However, there are a small number of staff designated as cleaning operatives on a basic pay rate of £128.92 per week and the appropriate pension in such cases would be £25.50 per week. As the scheme allows a member to commute up to 25 per cent of his [2428] retirement pension, it is possible that the £24.50 quoted is a pension figure net of commutation.

The current basic rates of pay of rail operative staff range from £152.74 up to £217.49 per week (craftworkers) and pensions payable under the scheme can range from £30.50 per week up to the present maximum of £40.50 per week, depending on a person's basic pay at date of retirement.

CIE wages grade staff, including rail staff, pay a Class A PRSI contribution rate and are therefore normally entitled to a State contributory retirement pension at age 65. The CIE wage grade scheme is not social welfare co-ordinated and pension payments from that scheme are additional to any State contributory retirement pension which may be payable.

Since December 1990 the facility exists whereby CIE group staff wishing to top up their retirement benefits may do so by contributing to an additional voluntary contributions scheme which has been established between CIE and Irish Life plc.