In November 2015 the Michelin Tyre Factory in Ballymena, Co Antrim, announced that it was closing its Truck Tyre Factory.
The company had been producing tyres in the town since 1969 and employed a team of over 1,000 people. The company said at the time that the factory was outdated, costs for future upgrades were “prohibitive” and that it had been consulting with employees.
In mid-2018, the factory closed with the loss of many jobs, which was a huge blow not only to the employees but also to the town of Ballymena and the surrounding area.
At the time, North Antrim MP Ian Paisley described the news as “apocalyptic.”
Change of Defined Benefit Scheme
However, to add insult to injury, many ex-employees were advised to move their pension away from the extremely generous Micheline pension scheme. According to available data, in many cases this would not have led to any benefits and would have resulted in many ex-employees suffering additional financial losses.
One former employee described how a partner at a well known firm of independent financial advisers attended at the Michelin Plant to offer advice on pensions to all members of staff who were members of the Michelin Pension, and thus in line to access certain benefits.
At the time, the firm in question was an appointed representative of another large independent financial adviser but ceased to be an appointed representative on 28 June 2021.
Time is Ticking for Michelin Pension Plan Beneficiaries
However, claims for compensation for the Michelin Pension can still be pursued against the adviser’s principal, who is still authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority and continues to trade.
However, a strict time limit of 6 years applies to cases of this nature and the clock starts ticking from the date employees were advised by the independent financial adviser.
Therefore it is important that matters concerning each Michelin Pension case are thoroughly investigated at the earliest possible opportunity so as to gain access to their pension fund.
Paul Higgins, Solicitor from Pension Justice, who is based on the Wirral in England said “In many cases advice to move away from an extremely generous and well-funded gold-plated defined benefit scheme would have been bad advice and therefore in breach of the adviser’s duty to the client and substantial compensation should be payable.”
Such a final salary pension plan, or defined benefit scheme, offers members a guaranteed fund upon retirement. These guarantees are particularly valuable to protect our assets in an economic downturn such as the one we are currently facing.
Paul Higgins went on to say, “The price of oil is rising, inflation is at its highest level for many years, and the tragedy in Ukraine has an adverse impact upon the Stock Market. This will inevitably lead to the reduction in the value of a defined contribution pension and have a painful impact upon the standard of living in retirement.”