UK - Members of the Sea-Land Pension Plan are mounting two separate actions in a bid to win back their full pensions entitlement.
The disgruntled scheme members are to hold the Sea-Land scheme’s trustees to account by launching an internal dispute resolution (IDR) procedure as well as taking their case against Maersk to the pensions ombudsman.
Members want trustees to explain:
- Why, when the plan was closed to new members, the trustees did not change its investment strategy by reducing its equity weighting?
- Why news of the scheme wind up was delivered so slowly to the members?
- Why are members, in addition to their reduced benefits, being charged £350 for transfers out of the scheme?
The trustees have until February to respond to the IDR, at which point the members are likely to file a separate complaint to the ombudsman on these issues.
At present 200 members of the £6.4m plan are facing cuts of up to 60% in their pensions after Maersk decided to wind their scheme up.
Members’ complaint to the ombudsman argues that Maersk breached their employment contracts, which it inherited as part of its acquisition of shipping company Sea Land in December 1999.
Contrary to some reports, scheme members have said that the complaint to the ombudsman is not over the company’s decision to wind-up the scheme, or that Maersk had failed to inform members that the “pensions promise” could be withdrawn.
The ombudsman, however, is expected to want modifications to the complaint, which specifies that it is on behalf of 26 other employees.
Pensions ombudsman spokesman Tony King said: “We can’t deal with a complaint that alludes to be on behalf of a group of people unless all the people involved give their consent for such a class action to take place. We would require the complainant to be appointed as representative of all of the employees.”
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