Monday, January 16, 2012

Parlon hits out at 'wild allegations' on pensions - National News -

A SERIOUS row that erupted at a meeting of the board of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) last week was related to the administration of the employers' body's pension scheme, the Sunday Independent has learned.

After the meeting, the CIF's director general, Tom Parlon, wrote to board member Jerry Beades to accuse him of making "wild allegations without foundation".

Mr Parlon added that this was now "unfortunately" a "recurring theme" of Mr Beades' contributions to meeting, something which, he said, was "totally unwarranted and unacceptable".

However, Mr Beades, in a reply to Mr Parlon, called for the resignation of certain named individuals whom he accused of being "deliberately misleading" in relation to facts and of "attempting to discredit me personally" by implying that he had been supplied with financial information.

Mr Beades first raised questions in relation to the administration of the CIF's pension scheme last May.

He has since repeatedly sought detailed information specifically in relation to around €30m which, he claims, is controlled by senior CIF and trade union officials "unknown to the membership of the CIF and employees" who make contributions.

He is accusing the CIF of a "blatant disregard" for "safe accounting" and is calling on the Pensions Ombudsman to conduct an investigation.

However, Mr Parlon has told Mr Beades that his contribution to an executive meeting on Tuesday last "showed a total lack of respect" for the chair of the meeting, the integrity of the officers of the CIF and the private business affairs of individual members.

He said Mr Bades was "fully entitled" to raise issues and "make inquiries" but that this must be done in an "appropriate manner".

Mr Parlon said members of the executive body should expect to attend and discuss key issues "without being shouted down in repeated outbursts" and demanded that meetings be held in a "courteous and businesslike" manner.

He asked that Mr Beades undertake in writing that he conduct himself in a "professional and civil manner" at further meetings and that he "apologise in writing" to fellow members for his behaviour at the meeting last week.

The row flared up after a presentation of a review of the Construction Industry Monitoring Agency (CIMA), the role of which is, among other things, to ensure pension scheme compliance.

Mr Beades maintains that there is a lot of disquiet in the industry in relation to the administration of the pension scheme. He claims that large sums have been collected which are not used for pension-contribution purposes.

The meeting last week heard that a review of the functions and operations of CIMA had not been conducted for approximately a decade.

"Regular reviews of the agency must be conducted to ensure its continued effectiveness and viability," CIMA's own review concluded.

It also stated: "Allegations have recently been made of CIMA monitors pursuing other industrial-relations type issues in addition to compliance with the Pension and Sick Pay Scheme.

"We recommend that the monitor-nomination form and the monitor-declaration form be strictly adhered to. The activities of CIMA monitors should be keenly supervised and any deviation into other industrial relations issues by CIMA monitors should be dealt with by the code of practice drawn up for such issues.

"At present contributions to CIMA are on a voluntary basis. We recommend that the executive body give consideration to making these mandatory."


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