I’ve just finished speaking in Dail to the new Social Protection Minister. I spoke mostly on the pensions issue, and also about how unfair, and unproductive it is, to ignore tax cheats in the corporate sector, while hounding the poor. Will she be any better than Leo? Don’t hold your breath.

Published on 24 Feb 2017

In the Dáil yesterday Brid Smith TD pointed out the widening gender gap – women are earning less and getting less in pensions than they were, compared with men. She linked this to the struggle of the mainly female workforce in TESCO and called for solidarity actions including supporting a mass picket of striking TESCO shops on Sat 25th Feb at 12.00 midday.

Brid outlines the history of pension rip-offs that have occurred – “an avalanche” of companies, household names, that effectively engage in theft from their employees, from Dennis O Brien’s Independent News & Media to Arnotts, and argues the the Bill must be amended to prevent this.

Brid attacks the State for penalising pensioners, in particular female pensioners, and refers to the way in which greed trumped need in the way Independent News & Media responded to ‘their’ pensioners.

Brid insisted on revisiting this issue because many pensioners, most of them women, stand to loose about 30 Euros per week in pension entitlements if the government is let get away with their plan to discriminate on an planned ‘ageist’ basis. She gave notice of her intention to mount a serious campaign nationally, on this issue, having been previously ruled out of order because to address the inequality would incur a cost to the State!

Leo Varadkar has no real answers when Brid pushes him on the unfair way in which he stands over pensions inequality planned for in the Social Welfare Bill 2016. This exchange was on the Select Committee on Social Protection, Nov 17. Brid has announced plans to mount a campaign on this most serious issue.

women-pensionsBrid Smith has tabled amendments to the Social Welfare Act that could end discrimination against many pensioners who are recently retired but find their pension a lot loss than they expected.

Under new guidelines introduced in 2012, the criteria for reaching the maximum payable contributory pension was altered.
Instead of getting the maximum contributory pension of 233 euros this year, many pensioners especially woman find themselves on lower rates. These woman may have worked for decades before retiring in recent years. But the changes mean that year out of the workforce before 1994 are not taken into account in accessing the rate of their contributory pension,
Brid’s proposed amendment seeks to insure any period spent looking after children and raising a family is taken into account when assessing the contributory pension entitlement.
Deputy Smith said ” It is outrageous that many woman who took time out of the workforce before 1994 could face effectively been penalised. My amendment would insure that such cases are treated no differently to woman after 1994. This is clear discrimination that the Government cannot stand over”
Because many of these woman entered the workforce early in life, their average contributions may not be enough to receive the maximum pension when years spent raising a family are calculated. After 1994 up to 20 years can be discounted under the Homemakers scheme. I am seeking to have that right extended to woman before 1994. This is only just “