Money: Unions act over pensions: The TUC is alerting its 8 million members

Click to follow
The Trades Union Congress is launching a campaign aimed at alerting its 8 million affiliated members to the dangers of opting out of occupational pension schemes. More than pounds 100,000 is being set aside for the campaign, which will include a handbook for negotiators and pension trustees, leaflets for union members and meetings in the TUC's 10 regions.

The TUC move, planned for the new year, comes as the Government announced this week the privatisation of more than 420,000 civil service jobs. Privatisation will probably mean the end of inflation- proofed pensions.

Joanne Segers, pensions officer at the TUC, said: 'Over the past six or seven years there has been more and more concern over pensions. The main area is personal pensions as compared to occupational schemes. There is also the question of what many employers do with pension surpluses. What happened to the Maxwell pensioners two years ago has focused a lot of people's minds.'

Ms Segers added that a further area of concern was over equalising pension ages at 65 for men and women. The TUC wants retirement at 60.

The importance of pensions was seen at the last TUC Congress in September, which voted to make the subject one of the five main issues it will campaign on in the coming year. Nearly all big unions have at least one pensions specialist and they field tens of thousands of calls each year from members and shop stewards.

John Allison, national officer of the 90,000-strong civil service union IPMS, said his members were concerned about the effect of privatisation of government services on their pensions. He said: 'It was the first question to come up when the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston was privatised earlier this year. By and large we have been able to ensure that civil service pension provisions are the same, bar total index- linking.'

Anxieties of this kind are also familiar to Glyn Jenkins, senior superannuation officer of the public sector super-union, Unison.

Mr Jenkins said: 'When councils privatise services it has been open to new employers to keep staff who transfer to the new job in the local government superannuation scheme. We can't force a company to go down this line but if they wanted to they are free to do so. The Government is now pushing through a change in the regulations to stop it happening.'

Looking for credit card or current account deals? Search here