UK - Unions are urging the government to bolster workers' pension rights and protect final salary schemes.
Four unions – Amicus, Usdaw, RMT and the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation – have put forward seven measures on pensions at the Labour Party conference in Blackpool.
The measures, which have been drawn up with party activists, include:
• Mandatory employer contributions.• Compulsory scheme membership.• The establishment of a central discontinuance fund that will help pay the pensions of employees whose pension funds have been wound-up in deficit.
Unions believe such a fund would ease the pressure on sponsors, as they will no longer be “plagued” by fears about discontinuance and the impact on their scheme.
The unions and activists are also pressing for pensions to be treated as deferred pay, which would place them under collective bargaining rules.
Pensions officer for shop workers’ union Usdaw Eleanor Lewington said: “Pensions ought to be part of pay and have the same legislative framework, making it part of people’s terms and conditions.
“At the moment, if the company decides to close down something, you haven’t got any consultation process or legal rights.”
Amicus pensions officer Bryan Freake said the motions were put forward due to a lack of government action.
He added that while the industry was waiting for the government’s green paper, measures were needed in the interim to protect workers.
ISTC general secretary Michael Leahy said: “The demise of the final salary pension scheme by employers is one of the great scandals of our age. The government needs to act to make sure that future generations are not poorer than their parents.”
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