Monday 18 December 2017

War of words between Siptu and Dublin Airport Authority in pensions row

A group of Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) deferred pensioners protest outside Leinster House last week, as the row rumbles on.
A group of Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) deferred pensioners protest outside Leinster House last week, as the row rumbles on.
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Trade union Siptu has alleged that members of its Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) pensions committee are being hampered by the company in their efforts to engage in talks with staff in advance of a critical deadline next month.

The DAA has rejected the allegation.

"The release of union representatives to carry out union business is governed by DAA policies, which are in line with the Labour Relations Court code of practice on such matters," said a spokesman.

"All union members, including the Siptu Pension Committee, must follow these procedures."

The DAA has been trying to finalise a resolution to its involvement in the troubled Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme (IASS).

The defined benefit scheme had over a €700m deficit when it was frozen at the end of 2014.

Following consultations with a Government-backed expert panel last year, the DAA agreed to invest €72m in a new separate defined contribution scheme for its active and deferred members.

But Siptu members rejected the DAA's proposals in a ballot last December. Siptu has claimed Aer Lingus workers are getting a better deal than DAA members of the IASS.

Early last month, the DAA gave about 1,200 staff a deadline of March 15 to accept a lumpsum payment for their new pension scheme.

It told them if they didn't, they would not be eligible for higher defined contribution contributions from the DAA.

DAA chairman Padraig O'Riordain has warned that industrial action could be on the cards in coming weeks as the March 15 deadline approaches.

The expert panel is currently re-engaged with Siptu and ICTU to provide clarification on a number of points in relation to the DAA proposals. The panel is due to report next week.

Aer Lingus staff who were active members of the IASS have already agreed to join a new defined contribution (DC) scheme established by the airline. The airline stumped up close to €200m to establish the new scheme for active and deferred members.

Actuaries that were engaged by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) to examine calculations used by the DAA to determine the €72m it needed to inject into the new defined contribution pension scheme, recently backed the company's analysis.

The actuarial firm told ICTU that the calculations used by the DAA were reasonable and that one "cannot say they are inappropriate".

But Siptu told members this week that advisers also believe it would have been "reasonable" for the DAA to have used the same assumptions as Aer Lingus.

It claims that DAA staff would then have got a bigger lump sum.

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