Brendan Barber: 'Directors are keen to tighten every belt but their own'

From a New Year message by the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress

Share

There is no doubt Britain is mostly a better place to live and work than a decade ago, with a strong economy, rising living standards for most, and better public services. But there is one big exception to this progress. On pensions, we have gone backwards. Employers are continuing to walk away from their responsibilities.

Only one in four private sector employees are now members of good employer pension schemes, and the trend is downwards. Many employers have shut salary-based schemes to new members. Directors in too many companies have been keen to tighten every belt other than their own - boardroom schemes continue to guarantee huge pay-outs. We will not build a new pensions consensus on the foundations of double standards and gross inequality.

Pensions will therefore continue to top the trade union agenda. In the year ahead, we will have to step up our defence of existing pensions. Rentokil will have rung alarms bells in every workplace with a decent pension. And it is clear that the best defence workers can have for their pension is effective union workplace organisation.

But the year ahead also provides an opportunity for unions to move from defence to advance following the publication of the Turner report. There is wide support for the basic elements of the commission's report.

The choice now is between using the wide support that the Turner report has won to build a new pensions settlement, or kicking the issue into the long grass of indecision. It will need tough choices. In particular, more generous state pensions will have to be paid for through the tax system, particularly if we resist raising the state pension age.

The looming pensions crisis is not the only issue the Government has to tackle. The manifesto on which they won the election contained measures that add up to a real programme for the workplace with better rights for parents, investment in child care and new holiday rights. But too much of the public sector reform programme risks alienating the very staff who have to implement it.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5/6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The successful applicant w...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobThe successful ...

Business Analyst (Systems/ Incident Analyst)

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Business Analyst r...

SAP GRC Architect / Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am currently looking for a PERMANENT S...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Believe me, I said, there’s nothing rural about this urban borough’s attempt at a country fair

John Walsh
Tony and Cherie Blair on the day he was elected  

The intensity of the adulation for Blair ought to concern Labour’s ‘new’ man

Steve Richards
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor