Belfast Telegraph

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


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.

Belfast Telegraph