Friday, June 18, 2010

UNISON NDC 2010: Defending the Local Government Pension Scheme

On Wednesday morning there was a debate on Defending the LGPS.  I posted about this excellent UNISON Labour Link leaflet on the threat to our pensions just before the General Election.

I hope those who claim there was "no difference" between Labour and the Tories are pleased with themselves.

Anyway, below is my speech on motion 18.  I tried to speak on amendment 18.4 which for some reason deleted the call for there to be a single LGPS pension fund in England, Scotland and Wales.  I got "bumped off" by a "point of order... for the question to be put" (went to an immediate vote without hearing all speakers) .

Here is my speech anyway.

 "John Gray, Tower Hamlets LGPS Representative, With Voting Rights!!

I speak from inside the pension machine – I’ve been a UNISON LGPS rep for 14 Years...I’ve watched fund managers come and go – at great expense to our fund....believe me on this

Conference there is going to be a Public Sector Pension Commission. It will look at the future costs of all public pension schemes.

The union needs a specific response to the Commission that deals with the funded element of the LGPS.

Just like the situation in Holland in 1996 when public sector pensions were under threat – what did the unions, employers and government do then? They created a new pension system for public sector workers.
1 fund, 12 sets of benefits, governed by 5 trade union reps and 5 employer reps,

Consultation committees for scheme members, pensioners and employers

That body then created its own fund manager, in-house, low costs, responsible investor, it’s now the 3rd largest pension fund in the world with one objective to pay the members pensions and not fill their own pockets and drive away in the latest Porsche

And conference in 2008 a study looking at reform of pension’s management for state workers in Ontario Canada said “lower investment fees are but one of the many advantages enjoyed by large plans over smaller ones and over individual savers.

Conference its clear, everyone who has tackle this question of costs looks to consolidate funds

In London there are 34 pension funds, all competing with each other, all with at least 8 fund management contracts each, pouring money into the pockets of the City traders.

Why 34 funds? They are an accident of History, a system well past its sell by date.

What counts is the economic power and efficiency when it comes to our funds.....anything less than 1 in each country will cost us money in lost fees and no economic power

Why not 5, why not 10 why not 20?

Because they cost us more to run, wasted money that we cannot afford to throw away now or for future generations

So I ask you to reject 18.04

Let us offer the coming generations a chance to thank us in the future..thank us for having the nous to help save decent pension provision for them

Give us the policy to move forward with a coherent and calculated set of demands...let us tell Pickles in a time of austerity we know how to save money

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