Irish roundup: AIB, Fianna Fáil, Pensions Authority, Bord na Móna
Allied Irish Bank (AIB) is to pay all pension management costs for its members for two years as part of a new pay deal.
It has also agreed to protect pension entitlements in its defined contribution scheme, according to a statement from Ireland’s Financial Services Union (FSU).
The FSU recommended that its members accept the deal, which includes an average pay increase of 2.75% this year and next year, and an extension of a job security agreement until 2019.
Billy Barrett, senior industrial relations officer at the FSU, said the deal represented an improvement on an agreement reached last year, and ensured AIB would not pass on pension costs to staff.
FSU general secretary Larry Broderick added: “We have fought hard in these negotiations to win recognition for the dedication and loyalty of AIB staff. The fact that the bank is returning to profitability and is likely to pay a dividend to the state this year is in no small part due to the role staff played in restoring the bank’s fortunes.”
AIB is owned by the Irish government, following a bailout at the height of the country’s financial crisis.
Ireland’s main opposition political party Fianna Fáil is attempting to close a loophole in the country’s law that allows companies to walk away from their pension schemes, according to the Irish Independent.
The newspaper reported that Willie O’Dea, Fianna Fáil’s welfare spokesman, is seeking to table an amendment to the 1990 Pensions Act. It would mean the Pensions Authority could force companies to reduce any defined benefit scheme shortfall before closing the scheme.
O’Dea told the Independent: “That would help pensioners get their entitlements and stop some worrying practices which were often profoundly unfair and risked leading to hardship.”
He has also asked the Pensions Authority to assess the need for a top-up fund, funded by an industry levy – similar to the UK’s Pension Protection Fund – the newspaper reported.
In other news, Bord na Móna – a natural resources company – has awarded Willis Towers Watson a contract to run the administration for its three pension schemes, which have €320m in assets between them.
The contract also involves Willis Towers Watson providing consultancy services to the schemes’ trustees.
The schemes had a collective deficit of almost €30m at the end of March 2016, according to Bord na Móna’s 2016 annual report.