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Minister seeks to protect Indo pensions

7 December 2016

The minister for social protection Leo Varadkar is consulting the Irish Attorney General on the steps open to him to protect members of the Independent Newspapers (Ireland) defined benefit (DB) pension scheme.

Following protests by NUJ and Siptu members in Dublin, Leo Varadkar met the chair of the Irish pensions authority to discuss INM's attempt to close the final salary scheme. The authority has written to the trustees, who have legal responsibility for the scheme but were not consulted by the employer.

Parent company INM is going to the High Court in January to seek approval for a restructuring approved at an extraordinary meeting of shareholders on Monday. Leo Varadkar now wants legal advice on whether he can be given a public interest role in the case. This opens the door for the minister to ask the court to ensure that adequate provision is made for future pensioners before the financial restructuring is approved.

He is also set to examine the possibility of legislation preventing solvent companies from winding up DB schemes, in line with UK law.

Last night's announcement represents a glimmer of hope for workers whose final pensions could be cut by as much as 70 per cent. This is because the latest cuts come on top of changes made in 2013.

Seamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, said:

"We welcome this intervention by the minister. It supports the position of the NUJ, SIptu and the ICTU and is a response to the powerful protests on Monday . At a meeting of Dublin branch, on the streets and at the EGM we heard harrowing tales of financial hardship facing Indo pensions as the shareholders cleared the way for massive dividends for wealthy shareholder."

Tags: , ireland, pensions, Independent Newspapers (Ireland), Leo Varadkar, Siptu