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Atkins staff accuse bosses of profiteering over pension changes

Angry Atkins staff this week circulated a letter to colleagues involved in the firm's pension scheme seeking support for a protest against the company's decision to wind up its final salary scheme.
In the letter addressed to chief executive Keith Clarke and leaked to New Civil Engineer this week, staff accused Atkins of profiteering at their expense and failing to adequately consult them on the changes.Earlier this month the consultant announced that it was closing its final salary pension scheme from 1 July and would switch the 2,000 members remaining on the scheme into a defined contribution scheme. Its final salary pension deficit is currently £187M, up from £69M in 2004. The huge increase is due to new accounting rules that require companies to recalculate likely pension payouts based on people living longer.Atkins group human resources director, Alun Griffiths, said the company had already ploughed £22.5M into reducing the debt and planned to put in another £140M over the next five years. But in the letter to Clarke, staff said they believed Atkins would profit from the switch at their expense and that the change would result in a 12% reduction in employer's contribution to pension funds and leave them with 20% less when picking up their pension.Griffiths told NCE this week that the firm was 'mid-way through a consultation process. We've presented a package of proposals and will consider all feedback.'He added: 'There is widespread misapprehension about company pension schemes. The company provides a pension scheme that staff have the right to buy into, but the company retains the right to change the terms of that scheme.'

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