Sunday 25 June 2017

INM to advise pensioners on benefits it will deliver

'Trustees of the DB schemes met with union representatives last Friday as efforts continue to resolve issues around plans to wind up the scheme.' (stock photo)
'Trustees of the DB schemes met with union representatives last Friday as efforts continue to resolve issues around plans to wind up the scheme.' (stock photo)
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

Independent News and Media (INM) will write to members of its defined benefit (DB) schemes this week to outline what benefits they will receive following its decision to stop contributing to the schemes.

INM, which publishes independent.ie and the country's leading newspapers including the Irish Independent and Sunday Independent, had faced criticism amid claims that it was seeking to "walk away" from the DB schemes, which the company's management said are unsustainable.

The company has requested consultants Mercer to prepare a personal statement setting out an indication of the contribution and transfer payments attributable to each member and the benefits they might reasonably be expected to deliver following its decision to wind up the schemes.

Exact statements will only be provided once the final basis for allocating the available money is agreed with the trustees and the trustees have commenced the wind up of the DB scheme.

Trustees of the DB schemes met with union representatives last Friday as efforts continue to resolve issues around plans to wind up the scheme.

Following the meeting, trade unions Siptu and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said the company had signed up to a 10-year "deficit-repair scheme" in 2013 when INM restructured its DB schemes.

Any new proposals from the company will have to include "cast-iron guarantees to, at a minimum, maintain the 10-year funding" said the unions in a brief statement following a confidential briefing from the trustees on INM's proposals.

The board of INM, led by chairman Leslie Buckley, met last week and later issued a statement in which the company said it would continue to make "a significant pension funding contribution of €11.1m per annum from 2013 to 2023".

That sum is made up of €8.1m toward its DB schemes and €3m toward its defined contribution (DC) scheme.

Some €5.6m of the annual €8.1m DB contributions comprise a schedule of deficit repair contributions aimed at eliminating any deficit - as agreed in 2013 when INM restructured its DB schemes.

The trustees want assurances from INM that the schedule of deficit repair payments will be guaranteed and that they will not be altered or reduced in the months and years ahead.

The schedule of deficit repair payments has emerged as the key battleground between INM and the trustees who have sought special consideration for members aged 62 and over.

Older members of the DB schemes could see their expected retirement income maintained at up to 90pc of their restructured pensions under the proposal.

Without extra funding, plans to wind up the schemes would have seen future pensioners lose 30pc of their expected retirement income.

The pensions of hundreds of DB members had already been cut by some 40pc in 2013.

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