Friday 17 August 2018

Irish Life staff to strike over closure of own pension plan

Unite co-ordinating officer Richie Browne
Unite co-ordinating officer Richie Browne

Laura Lynott

Workers at the country's largest pension provider will strike after the announced closure of one of their own schemes.

Staff at Irish Life are set to strike on Thursday, April 12, in response to the company stating it will scrap the defined benefit pension scheme from June 30.

The scheme has more than 3,300 members, including pensioners and deferred members.

It has never been in deficit and has a surplus of more than €200m, with assets of around €1.1bn, according to Unite.

"It is particularly ironic that those working for the country's largest pension provider are being forced to take industrial action to defend their own pensions," said Unite regional co-ordinating officer Richie Browne. "That irony will not be lost on the public and in particular Irish Life customers, who look to the company to provide security in retirement."

The union warned the strike could "escalate" beyond one day.

A spokeswoman for Irish Life said following a "detailed review" of the liabilities and costs of two defined benefit pension schemes - the Irish Life Staff Benefits Scheme and Canada Life Irish Pension Scheme - Irish Life had "made the decision to end future accrual on these schemes".

"Irish Life is aware of Unite's plans, and will be working to ensure that any disruption to customers is minimised."

She said that Irish Life will engage with employee representative groups and remains open to negotiating with Unite.

The company said it believes closing the schemes was the right thing to do to ensure the interests of all scheme members. "The closure to future accruals is designed to ensure that the accrued pension benefits and the link to final salary are sustainable into the future."

Irish Independent

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