Saturday, 8 August 2009

Barclays Pensions: Resistance Works - Keep It Up!

The reported concessions from Barclays' senior management in response to the strike threat and demonstration organised by UNITE over the plan to close the final salary pension are good news. It seems unlikely this progress would have been made without the pressure staff have applied.

But let's be clear - phasing in contribution increases only delays the pain and doesn't deal with the reduced pension provision, which is surely the main issue. Barclays still proposes to close the final salary scheme.

Any pension scheme member would welcome their employer putting in more to pay off the deficit, which helps make pensions more secure. But this won't impact Barclays' overall balance sheet - it means moving some of the company's huge profits from one part of the balance sheet to another, reducing both their assets and their liabilities.

Given the huge profits Barclays announced, there can be little doubt that the company can afford to maintain a good defined benefit pension scheme. As the Grangemouth workers put it - "Mind the GAP":

  • Greedy Employer
  • Affordable Pensions
  • Profitable Company
Let's hope Barclays staff keep pushing for more.


The Badger said...

It is an irony that a union which entered into a cosy partnership deal with the employer i.e. Unifi (now Unite) and Barclays Bank has to resort to the threat of industrial action to get significant movement from aforementioned employer.

Ian said...

I've had an anonymous comment on this post which I don't feel I can publish verbatim as it talks about individuals and could be libelous.

I don't try to censor debate on this site, so below I've tried to paraphrase the key points being made without the dodgy bits. This does NOT mean these are my opinions. I'll comment separately.

I hope you think that's a fair way of dealing with the comment.


Unite really can not be trusted, when ... is so concerned with ensuring he lines his own pockets in favour of supporting his own reps is beyond me. The partnership agreement is made worse because without it the union management in Barclays would not have jobs, and they protect it and back up HR so often its a joke. I have seen first hand how HR ... protect the management and how ... supports them. Its one rule for HR and Unite, and another rule for the staff. Don't put up with it, make sure you all push for what is rightfully yours and don't trust the Union, they are as is states in a partnership with the very company they supposedly disagree so bitterly with in their "Big" speeches. No the partnership is just that, be very careful.

Ian said...

I think the last comment misses the point.

In my leaflet when I stood in the EC elections I wrote about the need for
"Putting support for members ahead of the risk of offending government or employers. UNITE needs working relationships with them, but true partnership can only be founded on equality. Employers and employees are not equal."

But it's a mistake to turn opposition to a particular partnership agreement into such hostility to the union as a whole. A real union IS its members - if you don't like what's being done in your name - change it.

Anonymous said...

Well - the Barclays section of Unite has only gone and done it again - they have climbed down on battling for our final salary pension scheme and are recommending an "offer" from Barclays. This would end the scheme, usher in the Afterwork scheme for all with a contributory factor. The only change from the last position is that the offer of a one off lump sum has been increased so all get £1750 minimum. There is some froth around matching contributions and improvements to ill health retirement arrangements.
BUT - for a few pieces of silver the Union are recommending acceptance of the ending of the scheme in a ballot. This is a massive climbdown and when you consider from the last consultative ballot where there was a 92% vote in favour of industrial action, then the Union should be ashamed.
I am on the final scheme as are many of my friends and colleagues and we cannot as we sit here in work believe this.
We knew that some in the union where working against any strike action, that they saw the bloody Partnership as more important that saving the pension scheme via industrial action. They will say that the BNCC voted in favour - a hand picked committee by and large with a few good people who put up with a lot, not from their employer but from their union, for acting in the interests of members.
But there you go - its worth it so some can keep their cushy seconded positions and cuddle up to their beloved Barclays. They had no stomach for a fight - we feared that.
Lots will leave the union now - Im tempted.
Fujitsu - thats the way to do it and we are proud of your efforts.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the last post, have we really gone soft and are prepared to lie down and take everything that is thrown at us. The employees that are still in this scheme are long serving with many years of experience and have over the years had benfits eroded away and this is the final straw. One of the chief execs instumental in the decision making process has now to make his own pension arrangements also, how will he cope with his quoted figure of £745000 per year.We have been sold down the river and can not understand why the union is not fighting all the way. I have 31 years service and am devastated that I will not be able to enjoy the retirement that I have looked forward to.Quite rightly said do we really need to be in a union now, it seems to be a total stand down, and why recommend an outcome let the members vote from their hearts.It seems that a lifetime of hard work is worthless and I am not a valued employee but a number after all!

Ian said...

Anonymous says "do we really need to be in a union now". But s/he also says "We have been sold down the river and can not understand why the union is not fighting all the way".

To me, that sounds like you know you badly need an effective union, but feel the union isn't being as effective as you want.

There's only one remedy to that - to get involved and make it more effective. Walking away will make your union worse and help Barclays treat its staff even worse.

Remember - the members ARE the union - even if some people seem to forget that from time to time.

Ian Seddon said...

I agree with that Ian but it is hard in there, from people I speak to. There is a myth (put around at the moment by factions of the union in Barclays at the moment) that Bank staff aren't up for strike action.
Who would have thought that BA cabin staff would be up for industrial action using prejudiced prejudged opinion.
But did anyone see their reaction at the meeting with Len McCluskey - superb - they responded to his support and that's all it takes, enthusiasm and support from the union - this hasn't been the experience in Barclays - the campaign is underway now for a massive Yes vote to end the final salary scheme. They could have ran all the way with this but dropped it as soon as they had a trivial excuse to do so.
I have a deferred Barclays pension - it is difficult for them to attack this but I have no doubt that they will try. Someone in the union quite rightly said a t a meeting on the Barclays pension issue that if they lost this most important fight then what will they do next? Anything they want comrades.