Sunday, June 24, 2012

UNISON NDC 12: What to do if your employer wants to close your pension scheme?

This picture is of me supporting the call for the TUC demo on October 20th was in the Friday morning edition of "London Calling" which is our regional conference new sheet. Next to it was this article I had written about:-  

"What to do if your employer wants to close your pension scheme?"

Tomorrow’s debate on the future of the traditional public sector pension scheme will be very important. But we must also remember the current threat to UNISON members in the Community and Private sectors.

Some employers have started consulting our members who work in Charities and housing association about getting rid of their pension schemes held with the Pension Trust and the Social Housing Pension fund. While the contractor Sodexo (which provides many privatised town hall and hospital services) is at this moment trying to close one of its defined benefit schemes.

If you are aware of any attempt to close your pension scheme you must get in touch with your branch ASAP. Do not believe the misinformation being put out about by some employers about how their pension fund deficits means they have no choice but to close. This is rubbish! In nearly all cases such “deficits” are completely artificial. Its "funny money". As everyone knows due to the recession the stock market is depressed and government bonds (which are used to measure such deficits) are at a 200 year historic low.

Most importantly, if you close your pension scheme it does not mean you get rid of the deficit. It is still there and could make things even worse since a closed pension fund has to sell its long term investments to raise cash to pay out existing pensions. 

I am writing a guide on what trustees and members should do if their employer tries to close your pension scheme. This should be out soon.

If the new look LGPS 2014 is accepted I hope it could become a model and beacon for all pensions schemes and lead to a rebirth of guaranteed defined benefit schemes - especially for the 60% of private sector workers who get no pension whatsoever from their employer".
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