Trade unions to launch pensioners' charter

EMPLOYEES and retired pensioners, not their employers, should have ultimate control over occupational pension schemes, according to a Charter for Pension Fund Democracy to be unveiled at the TUC conference in Blackpool.

Three of Britain's largest unions - the TGWU, GMB and MSF - are among the initiative's backers. It demands that the majority of a pension fund's trustees are chosen democratically by the scheme members. This challenges the practice in many schemes under which most of the trustees (in some cases, all) are appointed by the employer.

Bill Day, pensions officer with the GMB, said recent problems and scandals associated with occupational schemes might have been avoided if the pension beneficiaries had had overall control.

Wednesday's unveiling of the charter will be followed by a conference in London on 1 December to establish a national association for trustees who represent pension fund members.

By coincidence, Wednesday also sees the launch of an attempt to set up a Pension Trustees Forum, intended to offer specialist advice to trustees.

Meanwhile, groups of pensioners are seeking ways to collaborate. Michael Smedley, chairman of Impac, the Imperial Group pensioners' action group, has invited other groups to discuss establishing an umbrella organisation. Impac itself fought a long battle, including High Court action, to defend its pension scheme after the company was taken over by Hanson.

Pensioners' organisations can contact Impac by writing to Mr Smedley at Bericote Fields Farm, Blackdown, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV32 6QR.