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1,000 stage protest over community care pensions

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Community employment supervisors at yesterday’s strike

Community employment supervisors at yesterday’s strike

Community employment supervisors at yesterday’s strike

More than 130 families on Dublin's northside were among those left with no childcare as supervisors from hundreds of community schemes went on strike.

Damien McCluskey, who runs Finglas Childcare, said it was disgraceful that he and his colleagues had to take to the streets yesterday in the latest instalment in a decade-long battle with the Government for a work pension.

Now 62, he has five years of his mortgage left and will rely on the State pension when he retires. He was among more than 1,000 community employment supervisors who brought services like Meals on Wheels, care of the elderly and Tidy Towns to a halt during the stoppage and a Dublin rally.

The supervisors work on State-funded schemes.

They want an occupational pension scheme set up after the Labour Court recommended it back in 2008.

At the time, their wages were paid by Fas but they are now funded by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

However, they are not classified as public servants so do not have access to the same retirement benefits.

The court said: "[It] recommends that an agreed pension scheme should be introduced for community employment scheme supervisors and assistant supervisors."

It added 12 years ago that the parties should engage "without delay" to bring this about.

Mr McCluskey said the recommendation had not been honoured by successive governments.

"We've been pushed from Billy to Jack," he said.

"I'm going to be left now with just the old-age pension. How are you to survive on that?

"I'm 31 years working in the sector. I'm going to walk away with nothing. It's absolutely disgraceful."

Pressure

Patricia Sahbani, from Cork, said she raised three children on her own, worked hard and feels she deserves a pension following her efforts.

Previously, the Government estimated that granting the pensions could cost more than €500m, and the pressure will grow on the next government to address the issue.

This includes the fact that the number of over-65s on the dole has trebled, while a long-promised auto-enrolment scheme has not been delivered.

John King of Siptu warned that a summer of discontent looms if the dispute is not resolved.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, who attended the rally, said she would aim in government to set up a scheme for the supervisors.

This would be done "as soon as it can be done".