Business Irish

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Marks & Spencer’s Irish staff advised to accept pension plan

Gordon Deegan

Published 02/04/2014 | 20:47

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A visitor walks past the entrance to a Marks & Spencer Plc (M&S) store in the Afimall City shopping and entertainment complex at "Moscow City" business center in Moscow, Russia, on Friday, May 17, 2013. Russia's government is split over charging the central bank to support the economy as part of efforts to revive growth, leaving President Vladimir Putin to decide, according to an official familiar with the proposals. Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg
A visitor walks past the entrance to a Marks & Spencer Plc (M&S) store in the Afimall City shopping and entertainment complex at "Moscow City" business center in Moscow, Russia, on Friday, May 17, 2013. Russia's government is split over charging the central bank to support the economy as part of efforts to revive growth, leaving President Vladimir Putin to decide, according to an official familiar with the proposals. Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

The Labour Court has recommended that unions representing 2,300 workers at retail giant Marks & Spencer in Ireland accept management proposals concerning the closure of the firm’s pension scheme.

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MANDATE, SIPTU and the UK retailer have been in dispute since last year concerning company proposals to shut down the Defined Benefit (DB) scheme and replace it with a Defined Contribution (DC) scheme.

The dispute escalated last December when workers staged a one-day stoppage at M&S’s 17 stores here before both sides agreed to enter talks at the Labour Court.

Now, the Labour Court has recommended that unions accept management proposals concerning the pension |scheme.

The Labour Court has also recommended that the staff’s Christmas bonus for 2014 be reduced by 50pc and that |parties meet in March/April of next year to review the matter to agree bonus arrangements for 2015 and subsequent years.

The court also recommended that staff members contractually committed to working on Sundays should retain their current premium payments and that all other staff should accept management proposals while company proposals on public holiday premiums be accepted.

Reject

The court also recommended that the company and union engage on reducing the number of section managers by |37 through a voluntary redundancy programme process that also includes provision |for redeployment and reassignment.

However, a spokesman for MANDATE, which represents over 2,000 workers at M&S, said yesterday its shop |stewards were to recommend |to members that they reject |the Labour Court recommendation.

The spokesman said that shop stewards believe that the Labour Court recommendation “is not fair and balanced in all of the circumstances”.

In their argument to court, M&S management stated that it had offered generous additional funding to the DB scheme and is advised that its proposals for the DC scheme are very competitive.

The MANDATE spokesman said that voting on the Labour Court recommendation would start next week and should be complete before the end of April.

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