H&W work­ers face mas­sive short­fall in changes to pen­sion plan

For­mer ship­build­ing gi­ant is mov­ing 32 staff to new scheme

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY JOHN MUL­GREW

DOZENS of work­ers at Har­land & Wolff could be fac­ing a short­fall of tens of thou­sands of pounds amid pen­sion changes for se­nior staff, it can be re­vealed.

More than 30 work­ers at the for­mer ship­build­ing gi­ant could now be shifted to a ‘de­fined con­tri­bu­tion’ pen­sion scheme, in line with the rest of the com­pany’s work­ers. Ac­cord­ing to one worker, it could re­sult in an in­di­vid­ual short­fall of around £30,000. The com­pany, which em­ployed around 35,000 work­ers at its peak but now has a work­force of around 115, is now en­ter­ing into a “con­sul­ta­tion” over pen­sion ar­range­ments, af­fect­ing 32 work­ers.

A spokesman told the Belfast Tele­graph: “Har­land & Wolff Heavy In­dus­tries Ltd con­firms that it has en­tered into con­sul­ta­tion whereby the pen­sion ar­range­ments for 32 of its core em­ploy­ees are to be brought into line with the rest of the com­pany.

“The new De­fined Con­tri­bu­tion Scheme will see a min­i­mum com­pany con­tri­bu­tion of 3% sub­ject to em­ployee con­tri­bu­tions of the same amount. Em­ploy­ees will have the choice to opt out of the new De­fined Con­tri­bu­tion Scheme and in­stead be auto-en­rolled by the com­pany into the Na­tional Em­ploy­ment Sav­ings Trust (NEST).” Gen­er­ally speak­ing, there has been a grad­ual move away from ‘de­fined ben­e­fit’ pen­sion schemes, whereby the em­ployer pays the em­ployee a pro­por­tion of his or her salary upon re­tire­ment.

Har­land & Wolff is cur­rently hir­ing be­tween 10 and 20 work­ers across a range of fields, as it ramps up fresh wind farm projects.

It’s hir­ing a range of new posts to meet work de­mand for new projects which it’s un­der­tak­ing over the next few years. Jobs in­clude tower crane op­er­a­tors, pipe fit­ters and fab­ri­ca­tors, plan­ners and struc­tural en­gi­neers.

It’s un­der­stood the new posts re­late to the com­pany win­ning a ma­jor con­tract at the end of last year, to build 24 huge steel foun­da­tion jack­ets for an off­shore wind farm com­pany.

The project is ex­pected to last for around 18 months.

Last year, it cut dozens of staff in an “un­ac­cept­able” pe­riod amid “dif­fi­cult mar­ket con­di­tions” which saw sales col­lapse and the firm post­ing losses of £6m.

The ship­builder, which con­structed the Ti­tanic, saw turnover drop from £66.7m to just £8.3m dur­ing 2016.

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