Friday, 4 April 2008

Pensions vs private equity again

From the Unite site:

Unite calls on government to act as 63,000 workers' pensions are threatened by private equity

Unite, the UK’s largest union, has called on the government to legislate to protect pension schemes from raids by private equity style companies.

Unite officials met with Pensions Minister, Mike O’Brien to discuss the Pension Corporation takeover of the Telent company.

Unite, the UK’s largest trade union, believes the Pension Corporation that owns Telent and employs 2,000 UK workers, bought the telecom services company for £400 m to gain control of its’ £3bn pension plan and in addition, access to the assets of a further pension account worth £520m. The Pensions Regulator has expressed similar concerns.

Unite wants to see changes in the law to stop pension schemes being used as instruments of short term profit making for private investors.

Peter Skyte, Unite National Officer, said: "At our meeting with Pensions Minister Mike O’Brien yesterday, we pressed the government to take quick and decisive action to stop raids on pension schemes by companies seeking to make a fast buck for private investors at the expense of employees and pension scheme members.

"It’s clear that the key attraction for the Pension Corporation that bought the former Marconi company was its £520m pension back-up scheme. Pension schemes belong to the present and former workforce and must be used to protect their long term futures in retirement. They should not be used as a piggy bank to be raided for short term private gain.

"Mike O’Brien listened to our concerns and we welcome his assurance that the government is looking at long term legislation to safeguard pensions from such raids."

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