Sunday 28 December 2014

Bid to solve DAA €780m pension dispute in jeopardy

Published 24/07/2014 | 02:30

Efforts to resolve the dispute were under threat last night
Efforts to resolve the dispute were under threat last night

Efforts to resolve a long-running dispute over a €780m hole in a workers' pension fund at the Dublin Airport Authority and Aer Lingus were under threat last night.

SIPTU's pensions committee at the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) yesterday rejected proposals from a government- backed expert panel aimed at resolving the crisis at the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme (IASS).

The move could threaten a deal that would prevent the huge pensions scheme from being wound up. The DAA last night said it had not yet received formal notification of SIPTU's rejection.

A Department of Transport spokesman pointed out that the DAA and Aer Lingus boards had already accepted the panel's recommendations.

"The department remains of the view that this represents the best means of resolving this issue and giving people certainty and clarity about their pension entitlements down the line," said the spokesman.

Siptu is expected to issue further details on the rejection of the proposals today.

A number of issues are understood to have concerned it, including raising the retirement age for fire service crew. It was also concerned about the scale of proposed cuts.

The IASS scheme, which serves thousands of former and current workers at the DAA, Aer Lingus and Shannon Airport, has a near €800m deficit and attempts to address it have been rumbling on for years. Over the past 18 months there have been intense efforts to devise a solution.

Solution

While it appeared that a solution had been secured within the past few weeks, the surprise rejection of the expert panel's proposals could have dire consequences for former and current staff at the DAA who are active, retired or deferred members of the IASS.

They now face the prospect of even bigger cuts to their benefits that might have been planned under the expert panel solution.

The panel recommended last month that the DAA's proposed capital contribution to a new defined contribution pension scheme at the company should be raised to €57.3m in respect of active members of the IASS.

It also advised that additional contributions should be made by the DAA in respect of people who had left the company but not yet retired.

Irish Independent

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