‘People put their lives on the line for the Indo and this is what they get’

Changes to the pension scheme at INM are a breach of trust, say former staff

Irish Independent House  on Talbot Street, Dublin. Photograph: Bryan Meade

Irish Independent House on Talbot Street, Dublin. Photograph: Bryan Meade

 

Albert Smith (64): former sub-editor and assistant editor at Irish Independent; deferred pensioner who took early retirement in 2007 after 23 years.

“When I left, the projection for my pension was about €24,000 a year. I would have been okay. After the 2013 deal, I was told I was going to get around €12,000 or €13,000 a year, although the last statement I looked at it was around €11,000.

“I’ve one year to go and as things look from my reading, I’ll be lucky to get €9,000.

“The nearest thing to a sacred trust between an employer and an employee is making provision for old age. The Indo is breaking that sacred trust.”

*****

Don Lavery (63): former reporter who specialised in crime, security and military matters for the Irish Independent; deferred pensioner took early retirement in 2013 after 25 years.

“When I took redundancy, I expected a pension of €24,000 when I turned 66. That figure went down to €12,500 because of poor performance by the fund during the years of recession. With the proposed change now, I’ll will be lucky to get €8,000.

“There were people at INM who reported the news in the 1980s and 1990s who put their lives on the line for the Indo. I can think of three occasions when I had a gun put to my head . . . A well-known gangland figure, once told me ‘I’m going to find out where you live and I’m going to kill you and I’m going to kill your family’.

“People put their lives, and their families, on hold to get the story for the Indo and this is what they get.”

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Peter O’Connor (60) did clerical work in the INM circulation department; made redundant in 2004 after 30 years. Wife Noleen worked in INM cashiers for 25 years, also made redundant. Both were in Siptu, both have deferred pensions.

“The way it all unfolded with the way most clerical staff were forced out in 2004, you were looking to the pension scheme, hoping, that it would bring financial security in retirement. We’re really in a situation now that you are unclear what the financial circumstances will be at 67.”

He works now for a community project for less than the average industrial wage and with no pension. His projected pension in 2013 was €24,000 but was reduced to €14,400. If the proposed change is made, he will be lucky to get €10,000 a year.

“I’m not in a position to put money by to buy [an extra] pension. What is it going to be like at 67. I could be in pension poverty.”

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Jim Aughny (63): former business reporter with Irish Independent, specialising in personal finance; became redundant in 2007 after 28 years; deferred pensioner.

“My pension should be close to €28,000 but with the agreement of 2013, I lost about 40 per cent. What angers us all, members and deferred members, in all unions, is that was all agreed in 2013 and now, three years later, they’re going to welch on that agreement.

“The changes proposed now will turn my pre-2013 pension into about €11,000, or a bit over €200 a week.

“They should adhere to the 2013 agreement because it was signed in good faith. . . By closing the scheme and getting it off the books, they will be €24 million better off and can start paying dividends to shareholders. That’s the purpose of this whole thing.

“My earning ability at 63 to make up for this isn’t good.”