Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Questions

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Dáil Issues, Jobs

To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in view of the closure of a company (details supplied) and other longstanding printing companies, if he has any initiatives planned to protect and develop what is left of the printing industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Clare Daly.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 5th June, 2014.

Ref No: 23813/14

 

R E P L Y
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Mr Bruton)

Firstly, I should point out that the company concerned is not a client of Enterprise Ireland.

I understand from Enterprise Ireland that the agency is working with client companies in the printing sector committed to diversifying their operations into new technologies such as digital print (to offer short runs, economical and quicker turnaround, personalisation) and fulfilment/packaging services for target markets. Such growth areas include the medtech, pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, as well as electronic consumer and software customers.

Enterprise Ireland is actively engaged with in excess of 100 companies in the print and packaging sector, and has supported development in these companies through its Market Access, Job Expansion, R&D grants and Exploring Opportunities programmes.

The ongoing move from print to web for traditionally printed items has resulted in a significant decline in market print volume. Print companies that have successfully moved their business to focus on solutions, that include print, are growing both domestically and internationally. Print companies targeting sectors that developed niche or differentiated products are growing in turnover, export sales and employment. There is a need to innovate with respect to product, services and business within the print sector because of decline in large volume printing.

Enterprise Ireland continues to support clients, through the Lean Programme targeting improved efficiencies, enabling companies address margin issues in a very competitive market. There is also a need to adopt new products, services and business models to develop new revenue streams with the volume of general print declining. Print will continue to move towards a low cost service and differentiation of core customer offer will be essential to the development of a sustainable sub-sector.

Enterprise Ireland also:

– continues to work with companies seeking changes to their business models, market requirements and technology through its R&D programmes; and
– promotes Management Training to better position client companies to meet the challenges of the sector.

Enterprise Ireland promotes opportunities within the Public Procurement landscape. The most recent initiative was to invite consortia including print companies to develop solutions for the State Examinations Commission to move towards an on-line marking system while maintaining student experience. The aim is to improve capability and move towards higher value service offer which involves print services.

Enterprise Ireland is committed to engaging with their client base in the printing sector as a third party in discussions with the banking sector. This is done in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland’s Banking Relations Unit and the Sectoral team.

DAIL QUESTION

NO. 21

To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the position regarding progress in relation to giving pensioner groups access to the State’s industrial relations machinery in dealing with grievances in relation to their pension scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Clare Daly.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 5th June, 2014.

R E P L Y
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Mr Bruton)

I am informed by my colleague, the Minister for Social Protection that any consideration of a restructure of pension scheme benefits under section 50 of the Pensions Act must comply with the provisions in the Pensions Act and with guidance issued by the Pensions Board. This guidance makes provision for the notification of all pensioners in advance of any application to the Pensions Board to restructure scheme benefits. In such circumstances a pensioner will have at least one month to make a submission to the trustees of the scheme in relation to such a proposal. The Pensions Board must be satisfied that all the provisions in the guidance are complied with before the Board will consider issuing a notice to restructure scheme benefits.

It is important to note that the trustees of a pension scheme are required to act in the best interests of all the members. On that basis , the trustees have to take account of the interests of the deferred and pensioner members in any restructuring proposals they make.

The question of whether it is appropriate that pensioner groups have access to the State’s industrial relations machinery in pursuing pension scheme grievances is under consideration.

Officials from my Department and the Department of Social Protections have held discussions to explore the issue of retired persons’ collective representation with the Trustees of the Pension Schemes of which they are members and, perhaps more problematically, with former employers where changes to the scheme are being negotiated between employers and employees that may impact on retired persons.

My Officials have also consulted with the industrial relations bodies under the auspices of my Department on the issues that arise in the context of collective representation of retired and deferred members of pension schemes in such circumstances.

In this context, issues that need to be considered include;
– the relationship, if any, between pensioners or deferred pensioners and their former employer. In this context, the relationship is with the pension scheme and by extension with the trustees of the scheme, rather than the employer.
– the representativeness of such groups and whether they have a mandate or mechanisms to conclude a collective agreement.