A group of trade unions in Sweden representing workers in the Nordic mail operator PostNord are demanding the company’s management returns the SEK1.9bn (€200m) it took out of the pension fund over the last two years.
The Swedish financial regulator has already warned that the company’s manoeuvring with its discount rate to make way for the cash withdrawals could put stress on the pension foundation to provide returns it might not be able to achieve.
The company raised the discount rate it uses to calculate pensions liabilities to 4% from 0.8%, which helped it to reduce its pensions deficit.
The Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers (Sveriges Ingenjörer), along with other labour unions SRAT, Jusek and the Swedish Association of Graduates in Business Administration and Economics (Civilekonomerna), sent a negotiation request to the service-sector employer’s organisation Almega.
Mats Rosén, ombudsman at Sveriges Ingenjörer, said: “We are acting for the protection of our members.”
“We must try to protect members’ interests,” he said, adding that “there may be problems in the future”.
The association said PostNord withdrew SEK909m from its pension funds in 2016 and then another SEK980m in 2017.
It said the money should have been used for various pension payments.
PostNord is jointly owned by the Swedish and Danish states, but Sveriges Ingenjörer said business at the Danish part of the company was going badly, which meant it was having to reduce its staff and thus incurring huge costs.
Last autumn, PostNord agreed with the trade unions to secure the company’s pension money by means of credit insurance to ensure that promised pensions were paid out even if the company became insolvent, the association said.
However, it said the insurance company, PRI, had considered PostNord’s financial situation to be too weak, and had therefore been unwilling to agree to provide insurance without having significantly greater collateral.
“The unions believe that PostNord violated the collective agreement when applying new calculation bases for large amounts without having insured the pension funds,” Sveriges Ingenjörer said.