Tuesday 10 December 2019

Pension cuts are 'savage', say aviation workers

Some 165,000 young people have left Ireland in the last five years
Some 165,000 young people have left Ireland in the last five years
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Retired members of the troubled Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme (IASS) will hold a meeting in Dublin next week, claiming that they are facing "savage cuts" to their pensions.

There are about 5,000 retired members of the IASS, roughly one-third of all IASS participants.

The scheme, which serves current and former staff at Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), has a deficit of close to €800m.

This week, both companies began writing to IASS members to inform them of a timeline for approving changes to the scheme in order to address the deficit.

The intention is that the IASS will be frozen and that the two companies will inject funds in order to establish new, separate defined contribution pension schemes at both the DAA and Aer Lingus.

Aer Lingus has agreed to an expert panel recommendation to provide €191m in funding, while the DAA has agreed to provide €73m.

But it's understood that the companies won't be communicating directly with the retired members of the IASS. That will be left to the IASS trustee.

The pensioners - who'll hold their meeting next Wednesday - point out that their pension pay has been frozen since 2007 and that there will be no future IASS inflation-linked increases in their pensions.

They also say that, coupled with those issues, they're also being subjected to the government-imposed stamp duty levy on pensions, which will further reduce their income.

They claim they're facing the loss of the equivalent of six weeks' income every year and that the cuts are "savage". The average age of the IASS pensioners is around 72.

Within the next two weeks, active and deferred members of the IASS are due to receive detailed paperwork including a document from the IASS trustee informing them of proposals as to how the deficit at the scheme will be tackled.

The companies will also issue documentation at the same time detailing their proposals to assist in the process, including the provision of capital contributions for the new defined contribution schemes.

Later in October, every individual member of the IASS is expected to receive personalised documentation that will detail precisely how they will be individually impacted by the pension proposals.

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