Monday, June 21, 2010

UNISON NDC 2010: Tobin (Robin Hood) Tax Motion 92

I actually managed to give this speech to conference without being “bumped off”!

"President, conference, John Gray, Housing Association Branch, London region speaking in favour of motion 92.

The Tobin or rather the Robin Hood Tax is a win, win for everyone. Not only a means to redistribute wealth from the very rich to the desperately poor but also a way of trying to ensure financially stability for our economy. Previous speakers have described how this tax is affordable, targeted and can raise large sums of money and the good use it could be put to.

However, we need to remind all members who have funded pension scheme’s or life assurance policies that it is very much in their own personal and collective interests that this tax is brought in. Remember conference that the original aim of the tax was to counter damage caused to economies by short term financial speculators who constantly buy and sell or “churn” currencies, stocks and shares. If by a relatively small tax on every city transaction it will make speculators think twice about such “churn” - then this will benefit not only our economy but our own worker savings.

Conference, don’t think that City speculators have nothing to do with you. For example every 3 months or so, city fund managers come and visit town halls up and down the country about their pension schemes. I’ve been a UNISON pension representative on my mine for 14 years; Pensions are by definition long term investments. What pensions need is investments that are also long term. But what happens in many pension funds at this moment is that we pay huge amounts of money to fund managers, who then spend even more of our money in commissions, buying and selling shares, on a daily or even hourly basis - not that they think these companies are well managed, well run businesses which will provide security and revenue for our pensions but because of short term volatility. This is what is meant by “casino finance”.

Conference, there is plenty of hard evidence that investing for the long term will produce superior investment returns. If our pension funds had been run in the past in our long term interests rather than the short term interests of the people who are employed in our name to run them, then perhaps we would not be having the problems and attacks on our pensions that we see now.

We should of course as unison activists be challenging our managers about their investments but the Robin Hood tax would make churn more expensive and also make it far more difficult for fund managers to justify such speculation.

Conference, please support this motion not least because it not only the right thing to do for your conscious but it will also be the right thing to do for your own pocket.

(I don’t think I will use my notebook to read off a conference speech again – during the speech I kept thinking that I was going to press the wrong key and it would crash! not a very nice feeling to have while in front of 1000 plus folk)

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