SIPTU chief slams Government's pensions report

"I don't know why the Government bothered to publish it at all," says Jack O'Connor...

SIPTU president Jack O'Connor has heavily criticised the Government's new report on increasing the age of retirement in Ireland.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast today, O'Connor slammed the report – which was unveiled by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe on Friday – as offering nothing in terms of solutions. 

He said:

"The report actually tells us nothing that we don't already know and it avoids dealing with any of the critical issues facing us in relation to retirement and pensions.

"It outlines recommendations which are absolutely innocuous and offer nothing in terms of a solution to these issues.

"I don't know why the Government bothered to publish it at all and I don't know why the people who produced it bothered to set it out.

"There are very, very difficult issues facing us all in this area. We have delayed taking decisions on them for far too long and we need to face up to a number of them and we need to do it now...

O'Connor was particularly keen for those who have been affected by the abolition of the transition pension to be helped.

He said that increasing jobseeker's benefit for people at the age of 65 who cannot work would cost "as little as €5 million for everyone in that situation". 

Referencing those engaged in the hotel and construction sectors, O'Connor noted that many of them were not able to work beyond the age of 65.

"And they are virtually always the people who have been contributing longest," he said. 

"Because people who work in those occupations, for the most part, left school at 15 years of age or earlier.

"The cost of looking after everyone who was forced out of employment at the age of 65 is €5 million per annum...

"It's chickenfeed in the context of public expenditure."

O'Connor outlined three areas that need addressing: abolishing the mandatory retirement age to allow people to have the option to continue working, helping those who lost out due to the abolition of transitional pensions, and introducing a "mandatory second-pillar pension scheme".