Bord Gais retirees to get €440,000 package despite price hikes
Published 25/08/2011 | 05:00
BORD Gais staff have been offered "gold-plated" voluntary redundancy and early retirement schemes worth more than €440,000 each while struggling consumers face price hikes of more than 20pc.
Internal documents, seen by the Irish Independent, reveal staff at the commercial semi-state -- who are paid an average of €67,300 a year -- can apply for a package that includes a lump sum worth a year's pay and get half their wages for 10 years after they leave.
The half salary -- worth more than €300,000 -- is funded by the company, while it continues to pay their pension contributions, and the workers are also free to apply for other jobs.
At 60, they get a pension based on a reckonable age of 65, or five extra years, as well as a gratuity payment worth up to a year-and-a-half's pay.
The average salary at Bord Gais is €67,300, which includes overtime but excludes share-based payments, and €77,200 when employer pension contributions are factored in.
The scheme is being used to cut staff numbers and marks the final phase of a job reduction plan that has been running over the last decade, when similarly generous packages were offered.
It is understood unions would oppose any changes to the package for the final round of redundancies.
A Bord Gais spokesman said the company had hoped to attract a minimum of between 50 and 60 candidates but had received 80 applications to leave out of the total workforce of more than 1,000.
Details of the lucrative early retirement and voluntary redundancy packages have come to light as Bord Gais customers' bills are set to soar by more than €300 a year.
Bord Gais announced an electricity price hike of more than 10pc at the start of this month and applied to the Commission for Energy Regulation for a gas price increase of 28pc.
The regulator has proposed a rise of "around 22pc".
Bord Gais, which announced a profit before tax of €120m last May, blamed an increase in energy prices on international markets and said that wholesale gas prices had doubled in a year.
It said that it could not afford to absorb the costs any more so it would have to pass on the increases to consumers.
A spokesman said it was currently considering applications for the exit schemes, which opened in May and closed last month.
Staff were given four voluntary redundancy and early retirement options.
The 'Option 2' scheme, for instance, is open to employees aged between 50 and 54, with 10 years' pensionable service.
The package includes a lump sum of one year's pay, including statutory redundancy, which would be worth roughly €60,000 to the average worker.
An employee aged 50 with 10 years of service would also get around €30,000 a year for 10 years, until they reached the age of 60.
They would then be eligible for a pension gratuity worth around €60,000 and a pension worth a minimum of €20,000, based on 25 years service.
Their term of service is based on the minimum requirement that they spent 10 years at the company, another 10 years after leaving when they kept up pension contributions and an extra five years' "incentive".
However, they would be entitled to far larger sums if they had longer service or enjoyed higher than average pay.