Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Translink pensions furore

TRANSLINK chiefs have been rocked by claims that retired bus drivers were short-changed in their pensions.


Controversy: buses at Belfast City Hall

TRANSLINK chiefs have been rocked by claims that retired bus drivers were short-changed in their pensions.

The allegation could affect hundreds of ex-Citybus and Ulsterbus workers.

And last night, Transport Workers union official John Coffey said: "The company has a moral duty to investigate this matter thoroughly."

A number of former drivers have already sought legal advice.

The controversy erupted after one former ATGWU official claimed pensions had been calculated on a basic 38-hour week - but did NOT take into account bonus payments or shift allowances.

"Even the 38 hours was far too low, because, under the old duties, many were working anything up to a 54-hour week," the official said.

"But the key issue is whether, as the pension regulations state, shift and bonus payments were taken into account. "From my reading of the situation, they were not."

Mr Coffey, chairman of the Citybus branch of the ATGWU, agreed.

He said: "It would certainly appear Translink was paying out pensions at a calculated rate which was set too low.

"How many retired members could be affected? It's hard to say, but if this is accurate, the company could be facing an avalanche of claims."

The Translink pension scheme is administered by the Northern Ireland Local Government Officers Superannuation Committee (NILGOS).

A spokesman for NILGOS said: "The regulations state what is and what isn't pensionable.

"We are simply the administrators - we pay it on behalf of the employer and on the information supplied by the employer."

Translink is currently involved in pay talks with the union.

As part of a proposed package, the company has offered to increase the basic 38-hour pension calculation to 43 hours - and backdate it to the point when bus drivers currently employed by both Citybus and Ulsterbus took up their jobs.

A spokeswoman for the company said: "We meet all statutory requirements in regard to pensions. Significantly enhanced pension arrangements for drivers, including backdating for all current employees, forms a key part of this year's pay settlement.

"The enhancement is entirely at the company's discretion. It is wholly inaccurate to suggest this has to be done due to legal requirements or NILGOS policy."

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