Staff at Irish Life are to stage a 24-hour stoppage on April 12 over the company’s plans to close off the defined benefit pension scheme to future accrual from June 30.
Unite trade union, which represents the workers in question, claims the scheme has never been in deficit “and currently has a surplus well in excess of €200m, with assets of around €1.1bn”.
Overall, the pension scheme has 3,000 members, with Unite representing approximately 1,000 of those.
The union said all head office and regional office operations will be affected, as well as the company’s call centre in Dundalk.
Irish Life management said it decided to end future accrual to two schemes, the Irish Life Staff Benefits Scheme and Canada Life Irish Pension Scheme, after a “detailed review of the liabilities and costs” of them.
A spokeswoman said: “The company believes that this is the right thing to do to ensure that the interests of all scheme members — active members, deferred members and pensioners are protected. The closure to future accruals is designed to ensure that the accrued pension benefits and the link to final salary are sustainable into the future.”
She said current active members will transfer to “a new market-leading defined contribution scheme in respect of their future pension benefits”.
Unite regional officer Richie Browne said his union is determined to resist the closure of a healthy pension scheme. He said the dispute could escalate beyond April 12 if a resolution to the dispute is not found.
“Our members are determined to fight this decision with all means at our disposal,” he said. “They are well aware that, if one attack on their terms and conditions is allowed to stand, others are likely to follow.”
He said it is “ironic” that those working for the country’s largest pension provider are being forced to take industrial action to defend their own pensions.
“That irony will not be lost on members of the public, and in particular Irish Life customers who look to the company to provide security in retirement,” he said.
Irish Life said it is aware of Unite’s plans for industrial action, and will be working to ensure that any disruption to customers is minimised.
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