Former aviation workers in UK likely to get full pension benefits

Proposals will cut Irish deferred members’ benefits by ‘up to 60%’, letter claims

Former Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta/Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) workers in the UK are likely to receive full pensions

Former Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta/Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) workers in the UK are likely to receive full pensions

Wed, Apr 23, 2014, 01:00

Former Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta/Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) workers in the UK are likely to receive their full pensions, while their ex-colleagues in the Republic face sharp cuts in their payments, it has been claimed in the latest row over the companies’ insolvent retirement plan.

Deferred members of the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme (IASS), jointly operated by the airline and airport manager, say proposals to tackle the pension pot’s €750 million deficit leave them facing cuts of up to 60 per cent in the benefits they built up while working for both companies.

However, a letter from a group representing the scheme’s deferred members points out that the 300 to 400 staff who worked for the UK divisions of both companies cannot have their pensions cut because the law in that jurisdiction protects their benefits, which will actually have to increase in the future.

The protection given to UK pension scheme members dates back to the 2007 Robins case, where the European Court of Justice found that member states could be liable for pension shortfalls in the case of insolvency. That ruling formed the backbone of a similar claim taken to Europe by former Waterford Crystal workers which was also successful.

Deferred members are those who worked for Aer Lingus, DAA and the now-closed SR Technics, which was also part of the IASS, but left before reaching retirement age.

They account for 5,186 of the 14,343 people affected by the deficit in the salary-linked scheme, making them the single largest group caught up in the row. There are 4,270 active members, and 4,887 people drawing pensions from the scheme.

The IASS Deferred Committee claims that current proposals aimed at resolving the row deliberately short-change them as they do not have a union representing them at the negotiating table.

The letter sent to members this week repeats the committee’s threat to take legal action. “Deferred members must ask themselves whether they can live on up to 60 per cent less of their expected pension for the rest of their days and remind themselves as to the necessity of continuing their pursuit of justice through the courts,” it says.

It forwarded copies of the letter to Cabinet members, including Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton.

The committee wrote to its members this week in response to a letter from the chairman of the IASS trustees, Brian Duncan, last week, which updated members on developments.

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