The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has condemned proposals from the ‘pensions’ industry’ that would force scheme trustees to obtain professional qualifications in order to continue in their role. Congress pensions’ expert Fergus Whelan said the proposals would see control and oversight of pension funds taken away from those who pay for them and “handed over to the same professionals that have presided over a meltdown in Irish pension provision.” Whelan was speaking ahead of the inaugural North-South Retired Workers’ Seminar organised by Congress and involving retired workers from across the island which opened on Thursday, 25th February.  “Obviously, pensions and the failure of the pensions industry will be a key topic at the seminar. Over recent years we have seen a catastrophic meltdown in the value of occupational pension funds in Ireland and workers have suffered massive losses, as a result. “This meltdown was presided over by elements of the pension industry and it seems their latest ploy is partly designed to disguise their failure to foster a sustainable, funded pension system in Ireland. “We’ve seen more than 700 Defined Benefit schemes closed down completely and the number of active members of DB schemes is down by nearly 140,000 and continuing to decline. There has also been a decline in Defined Contribution schemes as workers vote with their feet,” Whelan said. “It any group emerges from this catastrophe with credit it is the trustees who worked closely with worker and employer representatives to keep schemes running. The notion that forcing trustees back to further education at major expense to the schemes suggests that the industry and the Regulator have learnt nothing from what has transpired.” Whelan said pension schemes members paid large sums of money to finance a regulatory system that was not fit for purpose and “massive fees to an industry that has failed to deliver a sustainable product.”