29/11/2002

Minister meets ICI and Irish government over IFI pensions

Economy Minister Ian Pearson has met the Chief Executive and senior management of ICI and officials from the Republic of Ireland’s Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to discuss the situation at the Belfast plant of Irish Fertiliser Industries.

The operators of the plant, Irish Fertilisers Industries, jointly owned by shareholders ICI and the Irish Government, laid off 200 workers at the Belfast plant when the firm's three plants in Ireland were shut down in October.

Shortly after the closure, workers in Belfast were informed that they would be treated as creditors of the company and would therefore only be receiving 40% of their pension entitlement.

Speaking in London after the meeting, the Minister said: “This was a very useful and positive meeting. I was able to stress my close interest in how the liquidation is being handled and my wish to ensure that employees get their redundancy entitlement and their pension rights. I am glad that a way has been found to make an initial payment of just over £3,000 to the workforce.

“The pension related issues are complex and it was confirmed to me that the shareholders are proposing to meet with the four pension fund trustees to establish the facts and options going forward. I will await the outcome of this meeting with interest.

The Minister added that as well as hoping a buyer could be found for the Belfast plant he has instructed Invest Northern Ireland to work with the liquidator to explore the possibility of such a move.

(MB)

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