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Amey Rail RPS: Oppose the Closure of the Pensions Committee

26 October 2016

If you are a member of the Amey Rail Pension Scheme you should have received a letter from the Secretary of the Amey Rail Pensions Committee requesting your views on managementsÂ’ proposal to close this Pensions Committee. The view of the TSSA and RMT trade unions and the Employee Representatives is that managementsÂ’ proposal is totally unacceptable.

Download our joint letter here:    Amey Rail RPS Committee Joint letter

Download a pro-forma to complete and send to the RPS section administrators to oppose the company proposals to close your committee here:   Pro Forma Amey Rail RPS Consultation

As you may be aware there are over one hundred separate pension schemes (Sections) in the Railways Pension Scheme (RPS) and many have what is known as Pension Committees. These committees have been formed in general following negotiations between the employer and relevant trade unions.

Powers are delegated to the Pensions Committee and your committee takes a collective approach to monitor and adapt investment strategies and decisions made as issues arise. In the event of an actuarial deficit, where a potential shortfall is identified in the section’s ability to fund members’ benefits, the committee forces your employer to work with employee representatives to work out a recovery plan. The approach is often very different when the employer has control over the decision making process and the ability to put their own interests above yours.

While the main RPS Trustee Board continue to monitor each section the representatives on the Pension Committees have the same obligations as a trustee. As an example the Pension Committee representatives are expected to carry out Trustee Knowledge and Understanding training as required by The Pensions Regulator.

While these Pension Committees’ give the representatives elected or appointed on to them the opportunity to be involved in the managing of the section, it also gives the members of the Amey Rail Pension Scheme a voice when it comes to their pension.

Management believe for some of the reasons outlined below that the Amey Rail Pension Committee should be replaced with an inferior Pensions Consultative Committee (PCC).

Complexity: Management believe that representatives do not have the necessary expertise and that mistakes could cause higher pension contributions. This is totally disingenuous to the representatives on the Amey Rail Pension Committee and to those who serve on the many other Pension Committees throughout the RPS.

Representatives are not expected to be experts but as mentioned already they need to have a certain level of understanding. As with the main RPS Trustee Board, Pension Committees’ are expected under trust law to take advice from their professional advisors, such as actuaries, investment managers and consultants. Pension Committees do not take decisions which are contrary to the advice being offered to them. Of course you would expect pension committee members to ask questions, but for management to claim that mistakes could be made as a direct result of representatives not being professional pension experts is totally unwarranted.

Cost: As you will note from managements letter when it comes to the cost of the pension committee they make the point that the cost is rising as a result of active members leaving the Amey Rail Pension Scheme. This is correct but this is because management took the decision some years ago to close the Amey Rail Pension Scheme to new entrants. So as members leave the section the cost is passed on to those members left.

The solution to this is simple, the scheme should either be re-opened to new entrants or the company should pay the full cost of the Pensions Committee. This is no fault of the members and you should not pay for a decision which was made by management.

Meetings: Management believe that many of the representatives don’t have time to attend four meetings a year. We have no doubt that all pension committee members are busy people but if management are having problems with their appointees attending meetings then they need to delegate the responsibility accordingly.

Fairness: Management point out that there is no such Pension Committee for the Owen Williams section and that this section of the RPS has functioned perfectly well without one.

Make no mistake many employers if they had their way would not have any direct member input when it comes to pensions. The views expressed by Amey management, when it comes to representatives not being up to the job, is nothing new. The reason why there is no Owen Williams Pension Committee is because management have consistently rejected your union’s requests to set up such a committee.

If management want fairness then they should start a Pension Committee for the Owen Williams section of the RPS.

PCC: The Company are seeking support for their proposal to replace the Pensions Committee, made up of an equal balance of representatives of employer and employees with a restricted, less accountable, committee set up by Amey i.e. a PCC

There are many reasons why the PCC is unacceptable but the fact is the PCC would have no legal standing, would only meet once a year, and more importantly could be closed at any time by the employer.

TSSA & the RMT’s Position

 

Pensions have never been in the public eye as much as they have been in recent times. While law stipulates that trustee boards should have Member Nominated Trustees on them, this sometimes is not enough when it comes to protecting members benefits, as the BHS Pension Scheme scandal as highlighted.

While the RPS is an extremely well managed and protected scheme, having the additional layer of Pension Committees gives members, like you, that additional protection.

Management are asking members of the Amey Rail Pension Scheme to give their views on the proposal to close the Pension Committee. It is the RPS Trustees who ultimately have to give their approval to the Amey Rail Pension Committee being closed. Therefore your voice needs to be heard to stop managements’ proposal being accepted by the trustees.

Management are asking you to write to RPMI, the administrators of the RPS, before the 30th November 2016 so that members’ views can be considered by the RPS.

Therefore if you are a member of the Amey Rail Pension Scheme and you want your Pension Committee to remain open I would urge you to write to RPMI expressing your views.

To assist you we have drafted the enclosed pro forma letter for you to complete and send to the administrators of the RPS in support of the Amey Rail Pensions Committee.

Your voice is needed to protect your pension so please complete the enclosed letter and send it to RPMI before the closing date of 30th November 2016.

 

We will keep you informed of developments.

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