I chaired the meeting but stole most of this intro from the speech that our President, Lucia McKeever, was due to deliver. Lucia was unwell today and could not attend. I will post further on what turned out to be an excellent seminar.
"Good morning everyone
And welcome to UNISON centre – my name is John Gray and I will be chairing this seminar today. I am a member nominated representative on the Local Government Pension scheme and a UNISON NEC employer trustee on our staff pension scheme.
I know some of you have travelled a long way today
We appreciate your commitment – wherever you have come from and whatever branch or service group you represent
There is a lot to get through today – so I will be brief
One of the outstanding achievements of the trade union movement are the negotiation and creation of pension schemes and pension funds.....to live a decent life after retirement is what we all deserve
As a long standing LGPS rep I understand our own scheme and as a trustee of the UNISON staff pension fund I have a good grounding and understanding of the importance of good governance, good investment returns and effective management of the assets we hold in trust for our employees
I believe the role of a pension board member is challenging and exciting – it is one of the most important jobs a trade unionist can take up – looking after the savings of others
It is natural ground for us – to be inquisitive, to question, to probe and find out – to ensure the members get the deal they expect and hopefully more
Today this seminar is about preparing you for the role of LGPS board members – to take you through the key issues your officers and NEC members have been negotiating on your behalf
It has been a long journey to gain the right for you to sit on the LGPS board decision making process – back in 2003 local government conference motion requested the union campaign for your rights to govern your money – I am proud to say we are nearly there
We have had to strike and negotiate to win this opportunity – let’s not throw it away
By April 2015 every LGPS fund in the UK must have a board – with equal numbers of scheme member and scheme employer reps
We have put in place the resources to help you achieve that – every region has a project plan that is co-ordinated at the centre – we have training and in the New Year we will launch web based resources for you all
The key message I bring to you today is this – it cannot happen unless you and your branch and your region are prepared – after today we need to step up our efforts to ensure that every board has UNISON representatives – to ensure that scheme members are for the first time – represented at the table.....
This is an historic opportunity – there is £200 billion worth of assets to oversee – there are millions of scheme members and pensioners that need your skills and judgement to represent them....
I can do it - You can do it – we can do it together.....
Make sure you ask questions and participate – this day is for you...enjoy it"