IRELAND - Ireland's biggest union, the Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU), says it is "appalled" by the government's 2005 Budget, which failed to incorporate a number of pension reform proposals put forward by the union to overhaul the ailing pensions system.
SIPTU’s national equality secretary Rosheen Callender (pictured) said: “We are utterly appalled at the government’s inertia on the issue of pensions and childcare, which particularly affect working women, older and low paid workers and their families.
“Despite the obvious pensions crisis, which clearly calls for radical action to protect existing pension schemes and encourage the establishment of new ones, the government has failed to respond to any of the imaginative proposals put forward by SIPTU, ICTU and other organisations.
“Also, for the first time ever, social welfare pensions have been increased by less than other welfare payments, making it less likely that any will reach agreed targets within the agreed timeframes.”
SIPTU had called on the government to set up pension accounts for newborn babies through a 10% increase to the child benefit payment, create a basic minimum tax credit for low income earners as an incentive to join a pension scheme and allow people to cash in their SSIA savings – which are due to mature in 2006 and 2007 – early and tax free, providing the money is used for pensions purposes.
None of the suggestions were incorporated in the 2005 Budget, which was handed down yesterday.
Callender said the union would continue to lobby newly appointed minister for finance Brian Cowen – who told the Irish press he had not had sufficient time to comprehensively review all of the tax relief proposals in time for his first budget – with a view to 2006.
“The system is untouched, unchanged and unsatisfactory,” Callender told IPN.
“It was really a missed opportunity and needs to be followed up on very strenuously so we’ll all be redoubling our efforts.”
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