Pensions Awareness – towards a happy and secure old age

2 08 2008

It’s not just about retirement

As people live longer, and the law against age discrimination makes it possible for older workers to stay in employment, the experts predict that more and more people will be continuing in paid work for longer. But this doesn’t mean that pensions are less important – on the contrary.

To start with, the decision to work beyond the age we normally associate with retirement should be in the hands of the individual person, and that can only happen if people have real financial alternatives. In addition, and partly related to the kind of work involved, advancing age can present health issues which prevent people from working, or make it preferable to work fewer hours – in these circumstances, people need enough financial security to be able to step back from work at a time and in a way which suits them.

Occupational pensions – still a good deal

Many companies where Connect members work have their own pension schemes, which are funded by the employee and the employer jointly. Anyone who started work at a company with a pension scheme before 1987 will have been enrolled into the scheme automatically and will probably have continued in some pension plan, even if they have moved company. But since then, pension scheme membership has been optional, and so much publicity has been given to pension schemes in difficulty in recent years that there’s a real danger of younger people opting out and therefore losing the potential advantages of being in their employers’ pension schemes.

Employees who join occupational pension schemes typically benefit not only from the additional funding put in by the employer, but also from avoiding or sharing the costs of fund management and investment advice and from the advantages of scale which come from being part of a larger total investment fund.

Campaigning for better pensions

Connect has been at the forefront of campaigning for better state pension arrangements in the UK, and for occupational schemes which will generate pension incomes which allow people to have a good standard of living in later life. A number of Connect members also give their time voluntarily to be trustees of their own pension schemes, to safeguard their colleagues against the problems which have arisen in those schemes which make the news.

One critical point where Connect believes there should be improvement is in many defined contribution (DC) schemes, where minimum contributions are set too low to have any realistic prospect of yielding a good pension and where employer contributions are typically much lower than in more traditional pension schemes. Connect is arguing for changes which would give people in DC schemes more certainty and security about the pension they will eventually receive. Connect is also campaigning to make it easier for younger workers to get into pensions, through imaginative measures such as flexing pension contributions over time and off-setting pension costs with deferral of student debt repayments.

You can see Connect’s latest submissions to the government’s continuing review of pensions at Where Connect has negotiating rights, the union is also pressing companies to ensure sufficient funding of employees’ pension arrangements.

Weblinks: <> <> <>  (brief registration required)

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CWA supports BT Industrial Action

1 07 2008

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) has shown its support for Connect members in the UK by protesting at BT’s conference last week. More in the fair pay in BT site.

Support Zimbabwean Trade Unionists

18 06 2008

The TUC is running a campaign to support Lovemore Matombo and Wellington Chibebe, President and General Secretary of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) who have been arrested and accused of face charges of ‘spreading falsehoods prejudicial to the state’ – or rather, telling the truth about violence in Zimbabwe.


Lovemore Matombo                  Wellington Chibebe

mugabe_protestor_narrowweb__300x418,0 chibebe

The TUC is making a giant photo mosaic of Lovemore and Wellington using pictures of hundreds of their supporters.

You Can find more information here on the TUC website.

Industrial Action In BT

17 06 2008

Hot news from BT Sectional conference:

Following a debate  at Connect’s Conference, with elected delegates from all parts of BT, delegates have voted overwhelmingly to end the suspension of industrial action and to start industrial action short of a strike in BT. This decision builds on a strong vote in favor of industrial action which you delivered
in the postal ballot. We have now served BT with formal notice of industrial action.

Full details of the action will now be sent to you by post but remember to keep checking your private (non work) email address as this is the way that we will communicate with you. Talk to your colleagues and make sure they know what is going on. If any of
your colleagues have not yet supplied their private email address then it is essential that they do so now at

Keep in touch with us during this campaign – send in news from your branch and we’ll put it on this website so your colleagues can see what you’re doing.

Get involved If you want to take on a more active role in the campaigning, email Give us a phone number or non-work email so that we can contact you.

Send in news, ask us questions Send an email to

Connect BT Conference and Connect Forum

14 06 2008

Connect Souths committee is getting ready to travel to Nottingham for the Annual BT conference and the Connect forum.

More information as it comes.

BT Pay Video

5 06 2008

A short video of Ben Marshall, Head of Industrial Relations for Connect, explaining why BT’s Full and Final Pay Offer to its managers is unacceptable.


Alan Johnston speaking at the NUJ Conference

4 05 2008

Just saw this recording of Alan Johnston speaking to the NUJ conference thanking the efforts that NJU members and other Journalism trade union members – and talking about the large number of journalists that killed or kidnapped doing their work.

The Speech is here