Monday, September 17, 2007

Pensions problems hit home

Pensions are a key part of the pay and benefits package for millions of working people - even those who work for trade unions.
Few people have had any good news on pensions in recent years with occupational schemes being closed, final salary pension provision being eroded and companies going belly up taking people's pensions with them.
The NUJ, like all other unions, is not immune from this crisis - and unlike many of the media employers we have no hidden billions that we could choose to put in the pension pot instead of rewarding shareholders.
This morning has been spent with my management hat on poring over figures from the draft actuarial valuation of the union's own scheme. And the figures do not make comfortable reading however you look at them.
Changes in mortality rates (a good thing) have added a huge liability to our pension scheme (a bad thing). The years of increasing benefits in the 1980s and 90s instead of saving for a rainy day now have to be paid for.
There will be no quick fixes, no easy solutions for us - once we have the final valuation we will begin a consultation with trustees, scheme members and staff unions to try to find the least painful way forward for all.
It can be hard to switch from campaigning on company pensions to managing our own scheme - but it's all in a day's work.

* I have also written to Paul Davidson the Chairman and Chief Executive of Newsquest today urging him to extend the consultation period on proposed changes to the company's pension scheme - our union reps report a widespread failure to involve members in the consultation.

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