IRELAND - Members of pension schemes at Irish renewable energy and turf provider Bord na Móna will be asked to approve changes within the next few weeks which could see the two schemes merged and then closed to new members.

Fintan Geraghty, pension scheme secretary, told IPE, the company has two major defined benefit pension schemes - one is the staff scheme, the other the general operatives scheme - with total assets of around €300m.

The staff scheme has been in deficit for a number of years while the other is in surplus, so the proposal would be, along with a shift also in the benefits offered, to amalgamate the two schemes into a hybrid and close it to new members post-merger.

This move is, however, contingent to approval from staff and members, albeit the current proposals for the schemes have been ironed out through negotiations between scheme, the employer and union officials.

"It will go to a ballot within the next four weeks, but there has been a joint management and union group on this, and has come up with a joint proposal. We are now going through a series of information sessions with employees and we hope this will culminate in a ballot of the two schemes; as we are a state-owned company so this is a very significant development," added Geraghty.

Both of the schemes are mature in terms of its asset allocation strategy as the general operatives scheme has approximately 2,600 members, of which 1,300 are pensioners, while the other scheme has around 750 members, of which just 295 are active.

New employees to the company will be offered access to a defined contribution scheme should proposals be approved.

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