Posted: September 3rd, 2015
Minutes of the Fourth Annual Scottish Meeting held at 11.0 am on Monday, 5th November 2007 at SDR&SM Offices, Central Quay, Glasgow.
Harry Conroy (Acting Chairman) Gerald Mowbray (Secretary)
Crawford McAfee (Committee)
David Thompson (Chairman) Roy White (Treasurer)
David Robertson (Committee)
Michael Pickard Chairman, Mirror Group Trustees Ltd
Iain Urquhart Group Pensions Director, Trinity Mirror
Ralph Tomes Secretary, Mirror Group Trustees Ltd
Alan Burns C Director, Mirror Group Trustees Ltd
Andrew Watson B Director, Mirror Group Trustees Ltd
1.0 Chairman’s Welcome & Introduction:
HC gave David Thompson’s apologies for his holiday absence this time. HC then introduced the above guests and GM and AB on the top table.
HC then invited Michael Pickard to address the meeting.
2.0 Michael Pickard Address (now posted on the Association’s website)
MP started by saying that he was pleased to again report on the Trustees stewardship of the MGN pension schemes during the past year. MP remarked that today’s date was an important reminder of 5th November 1991 when Robert Maxwell was reported missing at sea and the consequential discovery of the missing pension fund monies. Today, MP was pleased to confirm that increased legislation and the Trustees Board’s revised constitution since that date has meant that the pension funds were now secure from any repeat of the funds being plundered or misappropriated now or in the future.
MP then gave a similar address to that given at the AGM last week under the following five headings:-
Firstly, comment on the highlights from the annual reports for 2006 as summarised in the recent Pensions News.
Secondly, comment on the impact on the pension schemes of last year’s business review conducted by Trinity Mirror and the financial background against which this has taken place.
Then comment on the Trustees Board constitution, including the new member-nominated trustee legislation, about which you will have had letters in the last few weeks.
A few words on the review the Trustees Board is having to make of those pensioners who are in receipt of ill-health pensions.
Finally, a few words on some of the main challenges facing the Trustees Board in the future.
MP concluded his presentation by referred to member-nominated trustees’ new legislation requirements and was pleased to confirm that Alan Burns and Andrew Golden had been returned unopposed to serve for the remainder of their terms of office. This announcement was met by approval from the Meeting.
MP then referred to the revised constitution that allowed some change in the B and C Director categories. MP advised that there were presently difficulties in reducing the number of B directors to enable an additional C director to be appointed – as had been requested by the Association. The Trustees Board will review the position when a B director stands down in the future.
Finally, MP referred to the Trinity Mirror sales proceeds and the amount to be allocated to the pensions’ schemes and advised that this should be confirmed by the end of the year.
3.0 Iain Urquhart Presentation:
IU reiterated MP’s comments re pensions life had changed for the better since 5th November1991
IU added that both PV and he had resigned from the Trustees Board last year after some 12 years membership and the company pension responsibilities had grown over that period. Trinity Mirror now had 10 final salary pension schemes and 2 contribution schemes. In an ideal world there would be no funding deficits. However, there had to be a balance between pension members and shareholders needs. Nevertheless, IU believed that that the MGN pension schemes would have a fair and significant share of the Company’s sales proceeds by the end of the year.
IU advised that he was again pleased to stand in for Paul Vickers and presented the Company review given by PV to the recent AGM in London. In concluding, IU confirmed that 8 of the 11 businesses put up for sale last year had been sold for a total of £250 million. The Company was now in discussions with the various pension funds’ Trustees for the appropriate amount that the Company will contribute to the various affected pension schemes. IU added that The Pensions Regulator will only grant “clearance” to companies, who have pension fund deficits but wish to return monies to shareholders, if there is agreement between the company and its pension trustees.
IU added to MP’s comments re the Trustees Board membership. There was an unfilled A director vacancy and consideration was being given by the Company for a suitably qualified pensioner to fill this place.
4.0 Questions on Pension Funds & Company Reports:
HC thanked both MP and IU for their informative presentations and opened the meeting for any questions to the Trustee and Company representatives.
MP responded to a question on the present pension deficits by confirming that increasing longevity was the main factor in putting pressure on future pension funding.
The question of the present circulation of the afternoon edition of the Daily Record was not able to be answered but IU would advise later.
MP was unable to give a ball-park figure for the Company’s additional contributions to reduce the pensions’ deficits but the amount for the MGN pension funds would be known before the end of the year.
MP confirmed that slightly different actuarial tables were used by the Company and the MGN Trustees – the Company having to report each year in its Report & Accounts to shareholders whereas there was a formal actuarial review every three years for the pension funds.
MP advised that any take-over company had to accept the original pension conditions and any pension deficits’ commitments.
It was suggested that ill-health pensions had been used in the past to solve staffing problems. MP confirmed that greater control was now required by legislation and the Trustees have to monitor ill-health early pensions to ensure that circumstances had not change.
HC thanked the Company and Trustee representatives for coming up to the “Celtic Fringe” and allaying some of the members’ fears. HC also thanked Trinity Mirror for its support for the latest AMP newsletter printing and SDR&SM for the room and refreshments. After being thanked for their attendance, presentations and answering the several questions, from the Floor, the Company and Trustee representatives left the meeting at noon.
5.0 Chairman’s Report:
The Chairman then asked for, and received, a minute’s silence in memory of Ken Hudgell, our Life President and former Secretary for many years – and the last of the three musketeers that founded the AMP – who had died earlier this year.
HC then advised that Eric Newson, former Treasurer for many years, had been endorsed at the recent AGM in London as the new Life President. EN’s former Life Vice President role would remain unfilled presently.
HC then added that he had now joined the ranks of the retired.
6.0 Secretary’s Report:
GM reiterated David Thompson’s thanks to the AGM in London on the continuing and tremendous response to the Pension Protection Fund appeal in December 2006. At the end of March 2007 the overall funds stood at £70,427.45 as reported in the recent Mirror Pensioner newsletter and with some £45,000 due to the PPP. Some £8,000 per month was now being received – mostly via the MGN Pensions Office – and at the beginning of October the overall funds had reached £121,540.
Given the still uncertain times at Trinity Mirror it had been agreed at the AGM that the continuation of the Pension Protection Fund would be reviewed at the next AGM in 2008.
GM then advised that all the officers and the committee with the addition of Alan Shillum, ex Trustee Board member, had been re-elected.
GM referred to his annual review in the latest AMP newsletter and advised that membership had increased by 455 new members during the past year. The present membership figures were 2,719 at the end of September 2007. However, more new members were still needed just to maintain the present membership level.
AMP was still pursuing an additional representative on the Trustees Board although the Company was considering making available the vacant “A” director place for a suitably qualified pensioner as a short-term solution. Pensioners and deferred pensioners now represented some 80% of the total MGN pension schemes’ membership.
GM then expressed the Committee’s satisfaction at the re-election of both Alan Burns and Andrew Golden as “C” director trustees and which was endorsed by the Meeting.
GM concluded by advising that the AGM downward attendance trend had been arrested and that there had been a record 115 member attendance at the AGM in London and he was pleased that a record 40 members had come to this 4th Scottish meeting.
7.0 Alan Burns (Pensioner Trustee) Comments:
AB advised that he and Andrew Golden were pleased to be re-elected and would continue the pressure at the Trustees Board for another “C” director given the increasing predominance of pensioners/deferred pensioners in the overall MGN pension funds’ membership. The Company-proposed “A” director place “loan” for a pensioner would only be a temporary arrangement and a permanent place was required.
AB referred to MP’s comments on ill-health pensions and the increased legislation requirements. The Trustees were now periodically checking that the original conditions for granting these pensions were still relevant.
AB then suggested that the Company and the Trustees Board take more notice of the AMP’ membership numbers than attendance at AGMs and endorsed the need for more new members to add to the AMP’s status.
8.0 Other Business:
8.1 Legal Advice:
Crawford McAfee referred to the high cost of legal services in the recent Trustees’ Report & Accounts for 2006 and suggested that AMP might consider using Union lawyers for any future legal work.
Comments from the Floor suggested that lawyers used by the Engineering Union had not been very helpful in the past in resolving a member’s legal problem. GM advised that it was important to use legal companies for their specialities. GM added that advice given by Giles Orton, the specialist pensions’ lawyer used by Tony Boram, on Trustees Board representation had been given free during this last year.
AB advised that AMP should consider every resource but acknowledged that Gile Orton had done a good job for Tony Boram during his fight with Robert Maxwell.
9.0 Next Annual Scottish Meeting Date & Venue:
GM advised that the AGM in 2008 would be on Tuesday, 28th October 2008 and that it had been agreed to start at the later time of 11.30am to enable more off -peak travel arrangements.
It was agreed that the later start time should also apply to the SAM on Monday, 3rd November 2008 at the SDR&SM offices again.
The Chairman concluded by thanking all attending members for their support for this fourth successful meeting in Scotland.
The meeting ended at 1.0pm.
Estimated 40 members attended.