Wednesday, 21 November 1956
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. James Tully: When the motion was adjourned on Wednesday night last I was trying to impress on the Minister the great similarity between the employees of local authorities in this country and the employees of the forestry section of the Department of Lands. One of the points made during the debate— I think by Deputy O'Hara —was that there was no general demand from forestry and Land Commission workers for any type of pension scheme. I think Deputies were speaking from experience in their own constituencies when saying there was no demand. I can claim to have experience in every constituency in the country where there is a forestry section, and the trade union I represent has had repeated demands from its members all over the country. Let there be no doubt at all in the Minister's mind that there is as great a demand from the forestry workers for the protection of a superannuation scheme as there was from the employees of local authorities before such a scheme was introduced.
For that reason I think it would be most unfair if those workers were deprived of the benefits of such a scheme for a further period. The statement was also made that it was impossible to work such a scheme where Land Commission workers were concerned. On Wednesday evening I referred to the Land Commission gangers in particular and I said that, because of the fact that there was a relatively small number of them and they were almost  in permanent employment, there should be very little difficulty in putting a scheme in operation for them. In this morning's post I received a letter from the secretary of the supervisors' association in which he stated there were 38 permanent supervisors employed by the Land Commission. While some of those people have up to 40 years' employment with the Land Commission they have no superannuation scheme. That is an injustice which should be rectified at the earliest possible time, and I think that time is now.
Mr. James Tully: I can see no reason whatever why the forestry section of the Land Commission should try to prevent its workers getting something which almost every other State, semi-State and local authority employee enjoys, particularly in view of the fact that they are not asking for something for nothing. I think I proved very conclusively on Wednesday last—I could not be certain because it would need an actuary to go into the matter—that as far as a layman can find out, for the first ten years at least the forestry section would be collecting from the workers subscriptions which would build up a scheme with funds at its disposal of anything up to £52,000 per year. Out of that amount they might in years to come be asked to pay superannuation. If the forestry section are to continue as we expect they will, it will mean that the greater the number of employees concerned the greater the number of subscriptions coming in. Even when the time comes for a number of those people to retire there still will be quite a substantial sum paid in every year which will more than counterbalance the amount being paid out.
In view of the points which I put to him last Wednesday and which were put to him by various other speakers, I would ask the Minister to reconsider the whole question and not to dismiss it summarily but to go into it very fully. I am sure if he is agreeable to do so he will find that the case is even far stronger than that I made here on Wednesday night and to-night. I would ask the Minister to tell me whether he  is prepared to consider the matter fully.
Mr. McQuillan: I should like to ask the Minister a question. I understand Deputy Tully made a case for the supervisors and the gangers in the Land Commission and forestry section. If the Minister finds it is not feasible at the moment to bring in a superannuation scheme to cover all the workers mentioned in the motion, would he agree to bring in a scheme to cover the supervisors and gangers on the staff of the Land Commission and the forestry section in view of their long service to the State? If he does I will be prepared to accept that for the moment anyway.
Minister for Lands (Mr. Blowick): In reply to Deputy McQuillan's point, the motion does not specify gangers and supervisors; it specifies workers. The motion asks that legislative proposals be introduced forthwith for this purpose. I will not say that I accept the motion but, as I told Deputy Tully on the last occasion on which this matter was before the House, I certainly will give it consideration to see if anything can be done. I promise that. Naturally if workers are being considered I cannot see how those over them, gangers and particularly supervisors, could be omitted from such a scheme.
This is the first time that the question of workers and gangers has been raised. The question of superannuation for supervisors has been raised on many occasions in this House. I know their plight has the sympathy of many Deputies and, speaking for myself personally, I would like to see a scheme introduced which would give them some little security when they leave office. At the present time supervisors are supposed to finish their services at 65 years of age. The way of providing for them is to keep them on in the Service long past the time when most  people retire. I will have the whole question examined to see what can be done. I want to assure the Deputy who moved the motion that it will be approached from the sympathetic angle rather than being dismissed summarily as he said himself.
Mr. James Tully: On the Minister's assurance, I am prepared to withdraw the motion but I can assure him that, if it does not have results, further steps will be taken to have it done in some other way.
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