UK – The pension scheme of project management company WSAtkins has fallen from a surplus into a £65m deficit.

In its annual results for the 12 months to 31 March, Atkins said additional annual cash contributions of £7m were required to service the debt from 1 April.

The change followed an interim actuarial assessment of the main defined benefit scheme last year. This indicated an actuarial deficit of about £65m at 30 September 2003. The pension charge for the year was increased by £2.3m and the amortisation the pension surplus, which had added £3.7m in the 2003 results, was replaced by a charge of £3.4m off pre-tax profits. Employee contributions are being increased, phased in over two years.

Transport project management provided nearly half (£410.3m) of Atkins’ turnover of £991.8m in its 2004 results. But Atkins, through its recently-acquired stake in the Metronet consortium, might be affected by a planned strike by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union next Tuesday.

The RMT is complaining to Metronet and the London Underground about working hours and pay. But the RMT is separately also in dispute with Network Rail, which operates the UK railway system, about its decision to close its DB scheme, according to Reuters.