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Union Votes on Pension Strategy


By: Author Unknown
BBC, August 20, 2002


Trade union delegates meeting in Glasgow have voted unanimously in favor of using industrial action to protect workers' pensions.

Shop stewards are drawing up a Scottish strategy aimed at ending the potential abuse of company pension schemes.

More than 40 representatives of the Amicus union gathered to discuss the issue and its national secretary Danny Carrigan said the UK Government should ensure workers do not lose out in the future.

The manufacturing union says that the abuse of pension schemes is currently the biggest concern of unions.

Amicus wants legal safeguards to ensure money saved and promised for a worker's retirement is actually paid.

At present, trustees can wind up a pension fund - or companies can pull out of final salary schemes.

Mr Carrigan told the meeting that more than 1,000 schemes were wound up in the UK over the last year.

"This conference will allow us to agree a strategy in Scotland to halt the abuse of workers' pension schemes," he said.

"As pension rules currently stand there are no penalties for companies which wind up their schemes and little if any redress for their employees.

Pensions loopholes

"There must be legal safeguards put into place by the government to ensure that money saved and promised for a worker's retirement is actually paid."

Shop stewards backed calls for the government to plug pensions loopholes by introducing an insurance-related fund similar to that operated by ABTA in the travel industry.

They also urged union members to support industrial action if an employer threatens to close a final salary pension scheme without agreement.

'Reasonable income'

Mr Carrigan said: "What we are saying is that the government should act and make sure that no-one loses out because of unscrupulous employers or because of bad pension schemes.

"Workers shouldn't be damaged when it comes to their old age. They should have a reasonable income to live on and their expectations should be met.

"If that means that the government has to legislate then I believe that is what they must do."

Amicus is planning to pursue this strategy at the forthcoming national TUC and Labor Party conferences.

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