Pensioners prepare to fight on reforms

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The Independent Online
THE Government will ignore the lessons of the Maxwell affair at its peril, according to Copas, the occupational pensioners' umbrella group.

Roy Hutchings, chairman of Copas, told the association's first agm last week to resist the Government's expected plans to water down occupational pension law reforms.

A pensions White Paper is expected this month.

'The next 12 months is going to be make or break,' says Mr Hutchings. 'Either the government is going to have some sense or pension funds are going to be piggy banks for employers.

'If we don't get pension matters right, a whole generation could lose out.'

Copas, the Confederation of Occupational Pensioners Associations, was set up a year ago when, after the Maxwell scandal, radical changes to pension law seemed possible.

About 30 pensioners' organisations are affiliated, including groups representing former employees of British Airways, Imperial Tobacco, Wimpey, the BBC, the Daily Mirror and ECC (English China Clays).

Copas says other pensioners are being hindered in their ability to organise collectively by the refusal of pension schemes to divulge mailing lists.

Copas's agm endorsed 11 demands for reform, including the establishment of an independent pensions regulator, a complete ban on investment by pensions funds in their parent companies, and an obligation that at least 50 per cent of trustees are appointed from staff and pensioners.

None of the three demands seems likely to feature in the Government's own proposals for pensions reform.

'Pensioners' organisations were forecasting that something like Maxwell would happen before he started his mischief,' says Roy Hutchings. 'Now we're saying what has to be done to stop another Maxwell. We're trying to mobilise the 11 million or so occupational pensioners behind us - that's a lot of people with votes.'

Copas: 0296 770224

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