Staff at Dublin's Central Remedial Clinic have voted to take industrial action over the organisation's unilateral closure of their pension scheme.

The CRC delivers disability services and receives about €50m annually from the Health Service Executive.

Some years ago it became mired in controversy over pay and pension arrangements including salary top-ups for senior executives.

Because the CRC is classified as a Section 38 body, its employees are deemed to be public servants.

However, the organisation has operated a number of different pension schemes for employees.

The private sector defined benefit scheme, which has just been closed, covers around 150 people, including 44 members of the IMPACT trade union who are currently working for the organisation.

Of its members, 93% voted for industrial action - the nature of which will be decided in the coming days. 

The CRC said the decision to close the pension scheme was taken following actuarial advice that it would need significant additional funding to plug a funding gap, and that the deficit had grown by €2m in the first quarter of this year alone.

It also noted that between 2008 and 2011, additional lump sums totalling €6.3m  were injected into the pension fund to address the deficit, including a controversial contribution of €3m, which was provided as a loan from its fundraising branch.

In addition, it has been paying a 25% employer contribution to the scheme, while the workers contribute 10% of earnings.

The CRC itself described this as "a significant contribution from public funds to a private pension for a Section 38 funded organisation".

The CRC now wants the 44 current employees to be admitted to the public service pension scheme, established in 2013.

However, informed sources said that this would create problems - firstly because it would require legislative change to transfer those CRC employees into the public service scheme.

In addition, it could create a precedent where the State could become liable for situations where other pension schemes get into difficulty.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which oversees public sector pay and pensions, said it had been made aware by the Department of Health of the position with regard to the CRC.

It emphasised that the primary responsibility for the welfare of their staff rests with the management and board of the CRC.