Unions urge employers to match contributions

The TUC and Unison have urged the Government to introduce legislation
forcing employers to match staff contributions to pension schemes.

A TUC analysis of government figures show there are at least 1.8m fewer employees
in final salary pension schemes than a decade ago.

It estimates only 200,000 of these employees are likely to have transferred
to personal pension-style money-purchase schemes, leaving 1.6m without any form
of occupational pension.

TUC general secretary John Monks said there may be even more people without
an occupational pension as many firms have closed schemes recently.

He called for the Government to implement a statutory obligation for
employers to contribute to employees’ pensions.

He said: "Over the past decade employers and the state have been
shifting responsibility for pensions prevision on to individual employees. Many
of these have no idea how poor they will be when they retire or simply do not
have the spare cash to make up savings needed to build up a sufficient pension
of their own.

"That is why employers must be made to contribute to schemes."

Unison wants employers to match staff contributions at least – with the
minimum amount being 6 per cent. It is also calling for employer pension
schemes to allow staff involvement in decisions and investment.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "Pensions policy is in
total disarray. Companies are backing out of their obligations with impunity.
That cannot be allowed to happen. The Government should act as a matter of
urgency and legislate to stop companies raiding pension funds by unilaterally
changing the rules and reducing employee benefits.

"The Government says stakeholder and money-purchasing pension schemes
are the way forward. Yet with breathtaking hypocrisy, MPs vote themselves one
of the best defined benefit schemes in the country."

By Quentin Reade

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