UK - The fate of more than 500 shipbuilders' pensions is hanging in the balance following the sale of Appledore Shipbuilding.
The firm’s new buyer, Dev-onport Management, is in talks with workers and union officials to decide whether it will take on the £21m defined benefit scheme which had an FRS17 deficit of more than £1.3m in March 2001.
If Devonport – the owner and operator of the Devonport Royal Dockyard in Plymouth – fails to do so, members will lose up to 80% of their entitlements.
GMB pensions officer Emily Thomas said: “We are in discussions with the buyer to ensure both existing and new members’ benefits are protected. It is important that the company knows how important pensions are to these people.”
Insiders say it is unlikely Devonport will merge the Appledore scheme – which is part of the Shipbuilding Industry Pension Scheme – with its own final salary arrangement because it is closed to new entrants.
Unions, though, hope the firm will set up a new pension arrangement to ensure staff savings are retained.
Devonport spokeswoman Wendy Smith said it was “too early” to say what action the company would take because it first needed to secure ongoing shipbuliding contracts.
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