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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 September 2017
Bosses' pensions robbery
Money which should have gone on workers' pensions has gone on bosses' profits and dividends, photo TaxRebate.org.uk (Creative Commons) (Click to enlarge)
Pensions are back in the headlines with the news that FTSE 350 companies' pension deficits are equivalent to 70% of their annual profits. For decades, bosses have been closing workers' 'final salary' pension schemes - also called 'defined benefit' (DB) - both to new entrants and existing members.
DB schemes are based on a percentage of final salary multiplied by the number of years in the scheme. Sometimes they are replaced with a far less generous 'defined contribution' schemes or 'career average' pensions. In the private sector the number of workers in final salary schemes fell to 600,000 in 2013, from 1.4 million in 2006.
The latest company to scrap its final salary pensions is BT. BT had already closed its DB scheme to new entrants back in 2001.
The Communications Workers Union (CWU) has threatened strike action unless the company reverses course. Recently BMW car workers and Atomic Weapons Establishment workers went on strike to defend their pensions.
Earlier this year Royal Mail said it would shut its DB scheme in March 2018. As a result of closure the CWU said a 50-year-old postie earning £25,000 a year and retiring at 65 would lose £4,392 a year, or more than £100,000 over the course of their retirement.
Companies axing their DB schemes claim that most pension pots - 74% - are in deficit, and the deficit is growing, making them unsustainable. Although top directors continue to have their final salary schemes generously topped up - see TUC's annual 'PensionsWatch' report.
However the Pensions Protection Fund, established by the government, flatly contradicts this claim, saying most of the funds currently in deficit will return to health in 15 years' time. Multinational financial services firm PwC points out the recent rise in equity markets has shaved £20 billion off the overall deficit.
Moreover the government's recently published green (consultation) paper said that DB schemes are not unaffordable. It stated that FTSE 350 companies on average paid out five times more in shareholders' dividends then they put towards their pension pot deficits.
The most notorious example of this practice was of course BHS. Its then owner Sir Philip Green looted hundreds of millions from the company in dividends resulting in the pension fund going from surplus to a £571 million deficit. Infamously, Green was pictured lounging on his £100 million superyacht in the Mediterranean while BHS workers were thrown on the dole.
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In The Socialist 6 September 2017:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Fight council cuts - back the Brum bin strikers!
Historic McStrike: if we don't get it, shut it down!
Problem gambling soars by 33%
UN slams Tories for disabled rights ruin
Them & Us
What we think
Tories weak: time for the TUC to act
Schools and teaching
Schools and teaching: A perfect storm of cuts, underfunding, excessive workloads and low pay
Socialist Party workplace news
Strike together for better pay
RMT fighting for passenger safety, accessibility and security
Merseyrail strike over safety: Labour mayor and councillors must reverse their decision
Three week Argos strike ends
Fawley refinery canteen strikers tell their employer: "pay up"
College workers ballot for action in Nottingham
International socialist news and analysis
Hurricane Harvey: A tragedy made far worse by capitalism
Extreme weather events and global warming
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Determined protest against Chatsworth Ward closure
Young people are searching for an alternative - find it at Socialism 2017
Huddersfield A&E closure goes to judicial review
Three thousand attend Burston strike commemoration rally
Bristol's Labour mayor calls anti-austerity march - now stop making cuts!
Demonstrators see off far-right in Keighley
Anti-fracking campaigners' legal fight
Socialist Party comments and reviews
How the Single Market blocks socialist policies
Bosses' pensions robbery
Magic money tree
Warts-and-all account of class war and the struggle for LGBT+ rights
'Let the producers of wealth unite - and what can withstand them?'
The Socialist 6 September 2017 |
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