A couple of weeks back I turned on the radio to hear a teachers’ union representative gnashing her teeth at government plans to reform public service pensions, including linking pension payments to average - rather than finishing - salary, along with the linking of post-retirement pensions to inflation, rather than pay.
It sounded like a good deal to me, considering the protection enjoyed by public-sector teachers due to FF's Croke Park Agreement. Perhaps others in the private sector who have been paying into contributory pensions for years, the eventual value of which remain doubtful, thought so too.
The teachers’ representative, of course, called the proposed reforms “larcenous”. She cited claims from some teachers who said they "would end up paying more into their (defined-benefit) pensions than they got out”. Laughable... and no wonder mathematics is a subject we do not excel at, with half-wits like these out in front of our classrooms.
The interviewer than asked if they would prefer to swap their pension arrangements for those in the private sector. Predictably, the “ we don’t want a race to the bottom” argument came out. Sure they don’t. Interestingly though, they weren’t campaigning to raise the standards enjoyed by those on “the bottom”.
They want those very bottom feeders in insecure jobs and ill-defined benefit pensions – where they have any at all – to continue to subsidise their unsustainable ones. Pensions enjoyed, not uncoincidentally, by retired TDs, gardai, judges and top civil servants.
The thing is, there have to be enough such private sector bottom feeders working to pour money into the black hole of such pensions (not to mention all the various other unworthy bail-outs for banks, investors and developers).
Maybe they should consider the plight of those turning up at Aviva today to see if they have jobs at all, and use their educated minds to make some kind of connection with the reality that exists outside their staffrooms.