Current and prospective An Post pensioners protested outside the Department for the Environment in Dublin today, chanting ‘Eamon Ryan, time to sign’ and urging Minister Eamon Ryan to approve a 2% annual pension increase.
Among the crowds were current workers and long-time retirees who say they have been entitled to the increase since January this year, with inexplicable delays because the Environment and Communications Secretary failed to sign the document.
They say they are owed the 2% pension increase under the 2014 pension agreement between the union group and An Post, which the company agreed to in January.
Since 2014, staff salaries have risen 13.75 percent, while retirees’ salaries have risen just 2.5 percent amid worsening inflation.
According to Bernard Clarke, An Post driver and representative of the Independent Workers Union, the problem started with this “disastrous agreement”.
“This agreement was reached because the An Post pension fund had a deficit of 200 million euros. Pensioners had no say or vote in this arrangement. So since 2014, pensioners in An Post have only received a pension increase of 2.5 percent, while An Post employees have received 13.75 percent. It’s an absolute disgrace,” he said.
“We will all retire. I have been in An Post for 37 years, I am 56 years old. I have limited time and if we don’t get this right, I’ll be among the people on the lower pension rate. If you think about it, the average increase in budgets would get a retiree about $5 more on average. Two and a half percent in eight years is all they got.”
Derek Keenan, a postman and the one singing into the megaphone, said the protest will continue weekly if demands are not met, with the next protest already scheduled for next Wednesday at 1pm.
“This is not just a one off protest, we will be here every week until this is signed,” he said.
“We hope it opens up a broad conversation about what has happened to retirees’ salaries over the past decade. And we’re looking for wage parity linked to actual wages on the job, as it always has been. It should increase at the same rate as wage increases within the position.
“Especially with skyrocketing inflation, the maximum they can ever get is a 2 percent raise, regardless of the rate of pay rises for current employees or the rate of inflation. We are talking about people who have been in the service of a company and the state for 40 years – good service to the public. They are on the brink of poverty in retirement. This is an absolute shame. They’ve paid for it all their lives, and they deserve better.”
One of those pensioners is Eugene Keenan, Derek’s father, who is a former president of the Communications Workers’ Union and wrote a letter that protesters delivered to Minister Ryan’s office.
“It’s starvation wages. Seven months later, we still don’t have that money,” he said.
“He has about eight advisors. One of them should tell him: “Would you sign the document and give the people their money?” They should. I’ll advise him if he wants,” Keenan added jokingly.
As the deal is revisited next year, retirees say they have already borne the brunt of the past decade, with their pensions falling 11 percent compared to staff salaries.
According to Derek Keenan, some of these retirees can get by on as little as €300 a week.
An Environment Ministry spokesman said An Post only formally applied for ministerial approval on May 4 to increase pensions by 2 percent a year.
The increases are set to take effect from January 1 this year, with an additional 2 percent per year to come into effect from January 1, 2023.
“Officials from the Department for Environment, Climate and Communications are working with colleagues from the Department for Public Expenditure and Reform to process any outstanding requests for increases and will complete this work as soon as possible.”
This might not be soon enough for the protesters.
“We are at a loss. It has been on his desk for a few months, the pension fund has a surplus of 580 million euros. So there’s no real reason, they haven’t given a reason why it wasn’t paid for,” said Derek Keenan.
Mr Clarke added: “We will keep coming back until it is signed. We will continue to lobby TDs, we will do our best and try to highlight and keep this in the public eye as much as possible. When the guys retired from the Post, they lost their voice too.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/were-going-to-be-here-every-week-until-this-is-signed-an-post-pensioners-protest-for-2pc-increase-41888298.html ‘We’ll be here every week until this is signed’ – A post-retiree protests for a 2 per cent increase