Department of social protection to review tara pensioners case

Story by Ann Casey

Tuesday, 27th January, 2015 3:02pm

Department of social protection to review tara pensioners case

The recent Tara pensiones protest

The Tanaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton has indicated her department will review the case of the Tara Mines pensioners, who are facing a 10 per cent cut in their pensions.
Tara Mines pensioners were disappointed last week when she refused to meet them along with Deputy Peadar Tóibín at the Dail last week, but she did promise a review of the case.
Deputy Tóiibin is now asking pensioners to write to the pensions board to explain their case.
The Meath West TD said that the Oireachtais Social Protection Committee would be discussing the issue as well.
He said the existing legislation allows for an actuarial certificate to be produced at a time favourable to the employers. He pointed out that the Tara pension fund is growing and if the certificate was to be produced next year, it would show no need for cuts,
Last week’s visit to the Dail by Tara pensioners followed a protest march the previous week in Navan in which  250 people marched to Tara Mines.
Pensioners spokesman, Tom Kelly has said that the pension scheme is 88 per cent funded.
The pensioners have also written to Boliden management in Sweden and have been asked by Deputy Damien English’s office to put down their grievances on paper and forward them to him.
The trustees of the Tara Mines Pension Fund have proposed a cut of up to 10 per cent, as the pension scheme is underfunded.
Tom Kelly said there was no need to implement this cut on vulnerable people. “The fund was at €100 million in 2010 and has grown to €175 million in 2014. It is at 88 per cent funding and is growing,” he said.
He pointed out that pensioners had already taken a cut of 2.5 per cent and were now facing a further 10 per cent reduction in their pensions.
In a letter to the pensioners, the trustees pointed out that The Pensions Authority requires a funding proposal to be submitted to them if a plan is underfunded and, as of August 2014, the plan was 74 per cent funded.
If the Pensions Authority does not receive this submission, it could impose benefit cuts on members or alternatively wind up the plan. 
The letter points out that the trustees have taken independent legal, actuarial and investment advice and have engaged with Boliden Tara Mines and all are agreed that the proposed changes are the fairest way to deal with the deficit.

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