A GROUP of former Bord na Móna workers protested in Tullamore, Co Offaly, yesterday over what they claimed was a €15m deficit in the company’s pension schemes.
However, Bord na Móna pointed out that it is in the middle of reforming the two pension schemes that it operates.
Managing director Gabriel D’Arcy said the company will honour losses made in the general employee superannuation scheme.
He said the pensioners had declined an invitation to meet with management of the company at lunchtime yesterday
Mr D’Arcy said he was disappointed the protest had taken place at an event that was not even organised by Bord na Móna.
But the pensioners who protested outside the International Peat Congress said they had declined the invitation to meet with management because the company had taken 10 weeks to respond to the last piece of correspondence.
The pensioners, who protested outside the Tullamore Court Hotel, are reported to be among nearly 400 affected in Offaly, Westmeath, Kildare, Laois and Longford.
The protesters claimed their pensions have dropped 25% in value due to inflation over the past six years, and that the company has failed to invest in the scheme.
They spoke with Taoiseach Brian Cowen, who officially opened the week-long congress being attended by 500 delegates from more than 20 countries. He said the dispute was a matter for the company but spoke with the protesters outside the hotel.
A spokesperson for the protesters said Mr Cowen had promised he would ask officials in his department to raise the issue with the company and try to expedite the matter.
Meanwhile, Mr Cowen told the congress that the environmental challenges faced by mankind require a vision on how to manage natural resources including great peatlands.
Mr Cowen said Ireland is fully committed to playing its part in safeguarding Europe’s fragile natural resources.
He said that Ireland has been designating bogs suitable for conservation as natural heritage areas and special areas of conservation since the early 1980s.
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