Occupational system crumbling, say BT members

UK – The UK’s occupational pension system is crumbling, say telecom and postal industry pensioners – who want to make pensions a high-profile issue in the forthcoming election.

“The occupational pension system is crumbling and the government has got to act,” said Roger Turner, general secretary of Unite, the National Federation of Royal Mail and BT Pensioners. He said if nothing is done then “pensioner poverty will get worse”.

Unite, which incorporates British Steel Pensioners and Rolls Royce & Bentley Pensioners, recently met pensions minister Alan Johnson to put forward its point of view. “Yes, we’re going to make it an election issue.”

Unite, which represents around 105,000 mostly retired workers, wants the “protection of final salary schemes to ensure that the younger generation continues to save”.

It wants the government to make pension payments compulsory – “ensuring that each member of the workforce can draw an occupational pension on retirement”.

Turner called for pension contribution holidays to be prohibited by law.

Unite has issued a ‘call to action’ on older people ahead of the election. It says the shift away from defined benefit schemes has to be fully or at least partially reversed.

“It is unreasonable for ordinary people to have to understand all the issues associated with long-term investment portfolios.”

It backs the decision to increase the number of member-nominated trustees. “It is time to put the members in charge.”

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