Tuesday, 6 December 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
77. Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his response to the recent report of the Pensions Ombudsman, which included particular criticism of employers in the construction industry; the action he intends to take arising from the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37197/05]
Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Killeen): The Construction Federation operatives pension scheme, generally referred to as CFOPS, has been established on foot of a registered employment agreement for the construction industry. A separate registered employment agreement in the construction sector provides for the establishment of statutory rates of pay and related working conditions of employment. The terms of both agreements apply to a range of categories of workers in the industry.
Compliance with CFOPS has been an issue of concern for some while and it prompted the Pensions Board to engage Mercer Consultants to carry out a review. The terms of reference for the consultants were formulated by a steering committee that included representatives of the social partners. The report, which was recently published, sets out a range of recommendations that have policy and operational implications for various Departments that are being examined at present.
Enforcement of compliance with the CFOPS is a matter primarily for the Labour Court. In pursuing the matter the Labour Court can be assisted by the labour inspectorate. Acting on specific information from the court, the employment records of an employer will be examined by an inspector and any relevant information gathered is communicated back to the court subsequently. The inspectorate has no other function in the matter.
In the meantime, work has also been progressing with regard to the discussion document prepared in connection with the mandate and resourcing the labour inspectorate. The social partners, together with representatives from the Departments of the Taoiseach and Finance, are members of the Employment Rights Compliance Group, ERCG, that is considering the discussion document. Among the issues being examined is the simplification and streamlining of employment rights compliance monitoring and the redress system. This includes the limited role for the Inspectorate in regard to the CFOPS. Those recommendations of the Mercer report that impinge on the activities of the labour inspectorate will be considered by the ERCG.
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