Posted: September 21st, 2015
David Thompson (Chairman)
Gerald Mowbray (Secretary)
Crawford McAfee (Committee)
David Robertson (Committee)
Harry Conroy (Committee & Scottish Organiser)
Roy White (Treasurer)
Michael Pickard, Chairman, Mirror Group Trustees Ltd
Iain Urquhart, Group Pensions Director, Trinity Mirror
Ralph Tomes, Secretary, Mirror Group Trustees Ltd
Alan Burns, Member-elected Trustee, Mirror Group Trustees Ltd
John Sim, Member-elected Trustee, Mirror Group Trustees Ltd
Malcolm Speed, Company-elected Trustee, Mirror Group Trustees Ltd
Chairman’s Welcome & Introduction:
The Chairman welcomed all members present and guests representing Mirror Group Pension Trustees and Trinity Mirror to this third annual meeting in Glasgow.
DT thanked the Company for its generous support in again arranging for the free printing and distribution of the latest AMP newsletter which had been delivered to some 7,000 pensioners. DT also thanked the SDR&SM for making available the room for this meeting.
DT then thanked Ralph Tomes for his assistance in again providing facilities for the in-house newsletter labelling operation. The Company’s continuing support was much appreciated by the members.
DT then invited Michael Pickard to address the meeting.
Michael Pickard Address:
MP welcomed the opportunity to address this meeting. MP said that he had been the independent Chairman of the Trustees Board for the last seven and a half years and fully realised the importance of communication with the AMP members.
MP then gave a similar address to that given at the AGM two weeks ago.
MP concluded by expressing his thanks to Malcolm Speed who was retiring as a trustee after some 12 years and who has also acted as Deputy Chairman.
Iain Urquhart Presentation:
IU said that as he was born and brought up in Glasgow, but left in 1972, he was especially pleased to be invited again to address this meeting.
IU advised that both he and Paul Vickers had resigned from the Trustees Board during the last year. Recent pension legislation now made it more difficult to be a director and trustee. There was now increased likelihood of conflicts of interest between the two roles. IU believed that it was a sad development for pension funds as pension knowledge and representation at company board level had been very helpful.
However, IU stressed that the present trustees take their roles very seriously. David Astley had recently been appointed Group Pensions Manager and was now a member of the various Trinity Mirror trustee boards. IU attended as an advisor now.
IU then presented the report given by Paul Vickers at the AGM in London recently.
Questions on Pension Funds & Company Reports:
IU advised that the afternoon edition of the Daily Record had a 10,000 circulation target but was not aware of present circulation figures.
MP responded to a question re reclaiming the £5 billion per year taken from pension funds since 1997. MP advised that it would be very helpful if a new government reversed the Chancellor’s decision in 1997. The tax effect had been cushioned by the rising stock market at the time and he very much doubted whether there would be any retrospective return of the extra tax collected.
To the question raised on the possible sell-off of the National Titles MP responded that for any corporate activity it was the obligation of the Trustees to ensure that no pension fund member was worse off after any sale. Recent pension legislation had strengthened the trustees powers to protect members interests.
IU confirmed that there were more competitors beginning to enter the pension buy-out market. At present there were only two insurance companies involved – Legal & General and The Prudential. However, the new companies would probably have more aggressive investment policies and future risks might increase for any pension funds involved.
At the conclusion of the questions session the Chairman thanked the Company and Pension Trustee Board representatives for their attendance, presentations and for answering the several questions raised by the Meeting. They then left the meeting at 11.40am.
DT asked for a minute’s silence in memory of Bob Avery who had died soon after last year’s Scottish Annual Meeting; and for all other AMP members who had died during the last year.
DT then advised that Eric Newson had been formerly proposed and agreed as Life Vice President at the recent AGM. DT added that the officers and committee had been re-elected at the AGM. DT then said that there had been a lively enlarged committee this year and funds had increased again. Gerald Mowbray will give more details of our funds and membership figures later.
DT then referred to the very well-attended memorial service at St Brides Church in Fleet Street, London earlier in the year for our founder, Tony Boram. Full details had been given in the AMP newsletters during the year.
DT reported on the five Parliamentarians who have become AMP Patrons. Full details of these Patrons had been included in the recent Mirror Pensioner newsletter. DT believed that these Patrons would support AMP’s interest in Parliament should the need arise with any threat to our pensions security. Alf Morris had already raised a general question on pensions linking it to the possible sale of parts of Trinity Mirror.
DT then referred to the Trinity Mirror Strategic Review which would be concluded by the end of the year. The Committee would be keeping close attention to any ensuing Company developments during the next year and also aiming to increase membership.
In response to a question from the Floor DT agreed to put the proposal for a £1/month contribution to increase the Contingency Fund to the next Committee meeting in London.
DT then asked if David Robertson would report on any developments to increase the Scottish AMP participation.
DR advised that he and Harry Conroy (the two Scottish committee members) had discussed forming a small AMP sub-committee in Scotland. They were also considering contacting Scottish pension scheme members to increase AMP membership via a mail shot. However, one difficulty was obtaining addresses of pension members and DR asked for those present to contact colleagues who were not AMP members or leave their colleagues e-mail or home addresses with him at the end of the meeting.
DT agreed to contact Ralph Tomes to determine if all pensioner members address labels could be printed off again and then sorted for Scottish addresses. However, DT was doubtful if the Company would release the addresses due to data protection regulations.
DR suggested that union lawyers might be persuaded to contribute though Alan Burns remarked that these were not always the best on pension matters.
There was unanimous approval for an annual subscription of £10-£12 but AMP needs to communicate why it need to increase its funds. DT agreed to put this on the agenda for the next committee meeting.
GM apologised for Roy White’s absence and referred to the financial statement in the recent newsletter. The balance at end April 2006 was £44,957.26; an increase over the previous year of £15,035.11. This increase was largely due to the increased Emergency Fund. The present funds now stand at £46,545 following the latest newsletter response.
At end March 2006 the total membership was 2,333 – little different from last year’s 2,330 figure. However, the present membership was now 2,264 as membership deaths had been greater than the new members’ figure.
GM then referred to the total MGN pension schemes pensioner/deferred pensioner membership of some 8,000 out of the total 10,000 membership and supported the Chairman in his appeal for more members. GM believed that though pension legislation was now stronger in protecting future pensions we still need to increase our membership strength and financial position to protect our future pensions. Foreign private equity companies are in the news presently in taking over UK companies that have large future pension deficits. The Pension Regulator has yet to intervene in these take-overs that threaten future pension provisions
At this point, Alan Burns intervened to state that the recent pension law will not allow companies to walk away from their pension responsibilities. AB believed that GM was unnecessarily alarming the members present on future pension risks.
GM accepted that recent pension law had strengthened future pension payments but observed that there were government organisations at the time that should have prevented Maxwell from stealing pension funds in 1992.
GM then reiterated his comments in the latest newsletter that although the Trustees’ Articles of Association had had been changed to allow for increased pensioner representation on the Trustees Board the voting procedures made it unlikely that places would be given up for increase pensioner representation – particularly given that the Trustees Board was not going to be enlarged.
There was general support from the Meeting for AMP to continue to press for increased pensioner representation.
GM then referred to the decision taken at the recent London AGM to delay the next AGM until mid-October 2007 in an endeavour to increase attendances that had been reducing during the last three years by avoiding the September holiday season. It was suggested that the last week in October should be avoided for the Scottish Annual Meeting because of the schools mid-term breaks. It was agreed that Monday, 5th November 2007 would be suitable and GM will check with Trinity Mirror and the Trustees Board for any clash with Board meetings before confirming the later date.
Finally, GM referred to the latest newsletter and there was general agreement that it was the best to date. Thanks from the Meeting would be conveyed to the joint editors, Brian Bass and Caroline Cluskey.
Officers & Committee for 2006/2007:
DT confirmed that all the officers and committee members had been re-elected at the AGM in London. However, more Scottish committee members would be welcomed.
Pensioner Trustee Comments:
AB referred to Michael Pickard’s comments on the Trustees Board composition. AB stressed that the two “C” directors could be deferred pensioners or pensioners and that given the difficulties of getting “B” directors to give up a position AMP need to press for an additional “C” director.
In response to questions from the Floor AB advised on the split SERPS and company pension elements. Prior to age 65 years the pension fund paid the full pension including the SERPS element. After the State retirement age then the Government paid the SERPS element. If there was any shortfall due to SERPS lower inflation level then the pension fund would make up any difference. AB confirmed that there was a £26,000 maximum pension for the Government’s Pension Protection Fund Scheme.
With reference to investment performances AB stressed that the pension fund investments were constantly reviewed with the pension funds professional advisors against the targets agreed with the Trustees Board.
The Chairman thanked AB for his contribution and attendance.
Next Scottish Annual Meeting Date & Venue:
The next meeting will be on Monday, 5th November 2007 as agreed earlier. The present venue and time was accepted by the Meeting and GM will arrange accordingly.
There being no other business the Chairman concluded by thanking all attending members for their support for this third successful meeting in Glasgow.
The meeting ended at 12.50pm.
Estimated 36 members attended.
Following the meeting three new subscriptions and five donations were received to a total of £90.00.
By BILL ROWNTREE, former Mirror Group photographer
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