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Dissenting voices few at first D&G pension meeting

Published:Thursday | September 22, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Despite their passionate opposition heading into the meeting, there were only about four dissenting votes at the first meeting of a series to approve changes to the D&G Pension Fund on Wednesday.

The meeting, which lasted over two hours, was with active members who are employees mostly drawn from one shift. Meetings with other shifts are scheduled for today and Saturday.

The members of the plan are voting in seven different meetings to approve the switch from a defined-benefit scheme to a defined-contribution scheme. Desnoes & Geddes Limited, which trades as Red Stripe Jamaica, is also seeking approval of a formula for distribution of the $3.8-billion surplus in the pension fund that will give the brewery half of the funds. The other half will finance improved benefits for plan members.

Red Stripe Manager Director Ricardo Nuncio is reported to have given an impassioned presentation on Wednesday and then again on Thursday at the vote for pensioners. He outlined a four-point case as to why the amendments were necessary.

"First thing that we want to achieve," Nuncio said, "is we want to lock that surplus ... so that it can't be touched by anyone else," he argued to pensioners.

He also said the company wants to share that surplus among all stakeholders and move to improve the benefits to all concerned.

The brewery proposes to use around $900 million of its half of the surplus to reinvest in Red Stripe.

Chief financial officer Bruce Kidner and actuary Ravi Rambarran outlined the underlying calculations and the implications of any changes. Again, reports indicate that the vote was mostly positive for the amendments, with a few dissenting voices.

The meetings wrap up next week with one at Wexford Court Hotel in Montego Bay on September 26, and the other at Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in Kingston on September 27.