Monthly Archives: February 2012

LATEST UPDATE – Public Service Pensions Bill 2011

ARCO continues with its efforts to have changes made to the proposed Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme) and Remuneration Bill 2011 to ensure that the pensions of its members who have taken up public service employment are not abated.  However, despite the fact that it has made strong representations to Minister Howlin on the matter, both directly and through its contacts, the Minister seems to be reluctant to take on board the very reasonable case that has been made to him. 

The Association is of the opinion that the linking of pension increases to the Consumer Price Index could allow the Minister the absolute discretion of delaying or indefinitely postponing any increases, thus effectively reducing the real value of pension entitlements and eventually changing their structure. He also appears unwilling to acknowledge the fact that officers of the Defence Forces are encouraged and indeed obliged to seek out a second career in order to provide for their families.  This is not a career choice but a stark reality. 

The vast majority of officers must retire on age grounds by their mid-fifties.  They do not have the opportunity, like other members of the public service, to serve the 40 years that would exempt them from abatement.  The nature of service in the armed forces requires its members to retire early so as to ensure the organisation can fulfil its demanding tasks.  The pension system and the early retirement age have been put in place to cater for this.  Most officers will still have dependent children to put through college as well as mortgages and other financial commitments to meet at this stage of their lives.  Retirement is therefore not an option for them.  The idea that most will be able to spend this early retirement in leisure activities is a myth and many who are now facing the stark realities of what is effectively compulsory early retirement can testify to this. 

Most public servants can serve to age sixty-five and in some cases much later. For officers however early retirement is compulsory and those who still carry financial responsibilities for children view its approach with little enthusiasm.  If officers are to continue to provide for their families they must seek out a second career and must do so while they are still considered employable.  The realities and difficulties in trying to find employment by someone in their mid-fifties means there is little point in waiting until then to change careers.  Most will have to enter the jobs market by their mid-forties at the latest if they are to hold out any prospect of doing so.

The pension they have earned in the service of their country – and let us be clear in this, members of the Defence Forces earn their pensions while putting their lives on the line when required to do so by their country, at home and overseas – is a reasonable expectation they have when considering their decision to retire.  That Mr. Howlin would seek to retrospectively change this reasonable expectation is unjustifiable.  Members of ARCO have already taken cuts to their pensions and have seen their tax bill increase significantly.  It is difficult to understand why retired officers are being targeted in this manner and from where the Minister is getting his advice to do so.

ARCO is pursuing its case at all levels and encourages members to contact their local and national representatives on this matter along the lines outlined above.  Even though this issue may only impact on retired officers who are in public service employment, it demonstrates the dangers to pensions in general and the need to remain vigilant.

EU Vacancies – Closing Date 22/24 February 2012

The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFA&T) is inviting applications for the following positions (DOWNLOAD FULL DETAILS HERE) with the EU Integrated Rule of Law Mission in Iraq (EUJUST LEX Iraq): 

LEX 3 Political Adviser 

LEX 6 Press and Public Information Officer 

LEX 28 Rule of Law Expert – Judiciary 

LEX 41 Rule of Law Expert – Judiciary 

LEX 76 Rule of Law Expert – Judiciary 

LEX 5 Reporting Officer 

LEX 74 Rule of Law Expert – Judicial Team Leader

Applications should be emailed to civilianmissions@dfa.ie and should be submitted on the official application form (DOWNLOAD HERE) by 14.00 on Wednesday, 22 February 2012. (The closing date is 24 February 2012 for those who choose to send their applications directly to the EU.) Applications will be subject to pre-selection. DFA&T reserves the right not to submit all or any of the applications and to reject any application which is not on the official application form. 

Serving state and local authority employees will be required to provide confirmation that they have received approval from their employer before applications will be considered.

Applicants who are already in possession of security clearance are requested to submit a copy of their security clearance certificate along with their application.

 

UPDATE – Public Service Pensions Bill 2011

The members of ARCO remain deeply concerned at the confusion and uncertainty that continues to surround the provisions of the PUBLIC SERVICE PENSIONS (SINGLE SCHEME) AND REMUNERATION BILL 2011.  The Executive Committee of ARCO has held a number of special meetings to discuss the implications for its members of the proposals contained in the Bill.  The Bill has the potential to radically affect former members of the Defence Forces who are currently employed in other sectors of the Public Service and those who are contemplating seeking employment in the wider Public Service now and in the future.  As we currently understand, the Bill when it becomes law will permit the retrospective abatement of pensions earned while serving in the Defence Forces to which people have property rights.

These pensions have already been reduced as a result of current Government policies, however it is now intended to effectively wipe out these existing pension rights for those who have moved to the Public Sector and are providing valuable skills in many specialist and general areas of the sector.  The Association contrasts the treatment of the recent relatively modest reductions to the pensions of senior public servants (20% reduction for those with pensions over 100,000 euro per year.) and the intention to impose a one hundred percent reduction of pension entitlements for our members.  ARCO has recently written to Mr. Brendan Howlin, T.D. in relation to the linking of future pension increases to the CPI.  The Association is opposed to these outright reductions and the CPI issue and is currently endeavouring to represent these views to the appropriate channels.

Since the formation of employment and pension policies for the Defence Forces it has been a factor of these policies that members of the Defence Forces have relatively short careers and have been provided with pension arrangements to suit these career policies.  While modifications and adjustments have occurred in pension terms over the last decade and a half the underlying policy principal of a short career and earlier pension entitlements have been recognised and remain in place.  Officers of the Permanent Defence Force are actively encouraged and are indeed required to leave the service at an early age.  They cannot therefore be equated with Public Servants who can serve until at least age 65 and in some cases beyond.  As most will still have young families to rear, mortgages to service etc., they cannot afford to fully retire.  They must therefore, by necessity and not simply by choice, seek out a second career while they are still considered employable.

ARCO has been in consultation with a number of Public Service organisations including RACO and PDFORRA who have similar concerns.  ARCO is also seeking specific legal advice on the retrospective aspect of this legislation.  We are grateful to RACO for providing ARCO with their legal opinion on these areas of concern, a copy of which we have uploaded here with their agreement.

ARCO has completed a survey to quantify those who may be affected and is aware that it will impact on a significant number of retired officers.  ARCO is also concerned that a number of other categories, such as the widows of retired officers who are in Public Service employment, may be drawn into the net.

ARCO is seeking a meeting with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D., and with other interlocutors to put forward and argue its case.  Based on the outcome of these contacts it will consider if it is appropriate to make a submission at the Committee Stage of the Bill and what further steps need to be taken.

 

UNOPS Vacancies – Closing Date 23 February 2012

UNOPS helps its partners in the United Nations system meet the world’s needs for building peace, recovering from disaster, and creating sustainable development.  UNOPS is known for its ability to implement complex projects in all types of environments around the globe.  In an effort to promote organisational excellence, UNOPS seeks highly qualified individuals for the following positions in their Mine Action Programme – Somalia:

  • Security Officer (Information). Click for details here.
  • Project Manager. Click for details here.

Retirement – Colonel Noel Joyce

Col Noel Joyce, Executive Officer and 2I/C Defence Forces Training Centre, will retire from the Defence Forces on 29th February 2012. A farewell lunch has been arranged for 1300 hrs on Tuesday 28 February in Ceannt Officers Mess. Col Joyce joined the army as a cadet with the 47 Cadet Class and was commissioned into the infantry in 1973. Members of ARCO who wish to attend or send messages should contact the mess office at 045 445060/61 or the Mess President at e-mail davina.lavin@defenceforces.ie.

Category: Retirements | Tags: , ,
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