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Irish Life workers to strike for 24 hours over pension scheme

Irish Life members of the Unite trade union are to strike on 12 April.

Image: Sasko Lazarov via RollingNews.ie

Updated at 3pm

WORKERS AT THE country’s largest pension provider, Irish Life, are to strike for 24 hours over the closure of one of its staff pension schemes.

Following a vote in favour of industrial action, Irish Life members of the Unite trade union are to strike on 12 April.

The dispute centres around the company’s unilateral decision to close its defined benefit pension schemes as of 30 June.

Unite says the scheme has over 3,300 members, including pensioners and deferred members.

In a statement today, Irish Life said that following a review of the liabilities and costs of the two defined benefit schemes – Irish Life Staff Benefits Scheme and Canada Life Irish Pension Scheme – it made the decision to send future accrual on these schemes.

“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,” the statement said.

Irish Life said it has confirmed to its staff and their union representatives that the defined benefits schemes will close to future accrual with effect from 30 June 2018.

It said that “current active members will transfer to a new market leading defined contribution scheme in respect of their future pension benefits, and support and guidance will be provided to help them with the transition”.

Strike decision

Commenting on the decision to strike, Unite regional coordinating officer Richie Browne said the vote for industrial action reflected Unite members’ determination to resist Irish Life’s decision to close “a healthy pension scheme”.

He warned that the dispute could escalate beyond 12 April if a resolution to the dispute is not found.

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“Irish Life can avert this strike, and the financial and reputational damage involved, by reversing their unilateral decision to close to defined benefit scheme on 30 June,” Browne said.

“The resolution of this dispute is now in the hands of management. Unite remains available for meaningful talks,” he said.

Irish Life said in its statement today that it is aware of Unite’s plans for industrial action, and “will be working to ensure that any disruption to customers is minimised”.

“Between now and June, Irish Life will continue to engage with the employee representative groups, and remains open to engaging and negotiating with Unite on the future defined contribution offering,” it said.

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