IRELAND - Some 400 regional and local newspaper employees are to be balloted for strike action by Amicus, the UK's largest private sector union, for strike action over plans by their industry body - the Irish Master Printers Association (IMPA) - to wind up their final salary pension scheme.
The IMPA plans to close the industry’s defined benefit pension scheme and replace it with a defined contribution scheme before the end of the year. The association says a funding shortfall is behind the move but Amicus claims the deficit is the direct result of employers not allowing new employees to join the industry pension plan.
Eddie Kirkpatrick, Amicus officer, said: “We all knew the scheme needed new blood which is why in 1998, we reached agreement at national level that all new and existing employees would be given the opportunity of joining or transferring into the industry pension scheme. Had all the employers in the IMPA honoured that agreement, we would not be facing the difficulties we are today.”
A national meeting held by Amicus shop stewards this week unanimously rejected the IMPA’s decision to close the scheme and referred the matter to the union’s legal department to clarify any possible legal action.
Amicus fears the employers intend to deal with the matter on an individual basis with employees, rather than holding discussions at a national level.
“Our shop stewards are bitterly disappointed and very angry that their employers have taken this decision,” Kirkpatrick added. “They regard their pension as deferred pay and are seeing their standard of living in retirement being reduced as a result of introducing a defined contribution scheme.”
If Amicus’ IMPA members support the industrial action ballot, including strike action, it will mark the first national dispute of print workers in Ireland in over one hundred years.
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