HC Deb 04 December 2002 vol 395 cc820-1W
Mr. McGrady

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions will be held with the Irish Government regarding the loss of 200 jobs in the fertiliser industry in North Belfast; and what action will be taken to ensure that all staff statutory requirements are met in respect of pension fund, redundancy payments and the issuing of statutory notices of employment. [82043]

Mr. Pearson

As well as meeting with Richardsons' management and Unions representing the work force, I have written to the company shareholders, including the Irish Government, expressing my concern over the treatment of the work force. I have met with ICI and a representative of the Irish Government. Further I hope to meet Mary Harney TD Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment shortly.

The issues relating to pensions are complex. There are four different pension schemes and the shareholders have asked the trustees of each scheme to establish the facts and options to mitigate the impact on members. The shareholders are proposing to meet with the four pension fund trustees and while the Government's influence in relation to the operation of private pension schemes may be limited, I will await the outcome of this meeting with interest.

In relation to statutory payments, former employees at the Belfast plant may make an application to the Department for Employment and Learning for statutory redundancy payments. If the employees believe that IFI, Richardson's parent company, failed to consult about the redundancies in proper time they can bring a complaint to an industrial tribunal.