Yesterday (Sunday September 9) Unite delegate Syed Nahid Uddin spoke to a packed hall at Trade Union Congress conference in Manchester in support of motion 31 – pension auto-enrolment and the lowest paid.
Uddin, a first time delegate put himself forward to speak at conference following a news story revealing that just one in ten young workers feel that they have any plans in place for retirement.
“Thanks to zero hour contracts and precarious work, many young workers are given no certainty whatsoever about the coming days and weeks – let alone years and decades,” Uddin told conference.
“As this motion makes clear – a tax loophole means that thousands of low paid workers are being denied the government top-up of 20 per cent,” he said.
For young workers on low pay, that 20 per cent could make a huge difference.
“This could affect hundreds of thousands of low-paid workers, disproportionately low-paid women workers,” he said.
“So it is only right that we should raise awareness and use our collective strength to slam this loophole shut,” he added.
This is the latest example of how the pensions system is rigged against low-paid workers.
Another government loophole requires workers to be earning over £10,000 in a single job before benefitting from automatic enrolment.
This locks out many workers, who have multiple jobs. Again, disproportionately affecting low-paid women workers.
“Conference, we need to place this in context. The trend in pensions over the last few years has been towards shutting Defined Benefit (DB) schemes,” said Uddin.
These DB schemes gave workers security and certainty.
“Instead of this hard-earned security, more and more firms are setting up schemes which are tied to the stock market,” he said.
“Often workers have no oversight into where these investments are made – leaving us in the dark about the risks being taken in our name,” he added.
Uddin ended by urging conference to help end the injustice by supporting the motion.
“Our futures must not be gambled with. Pensions are not a luxury. They are not a bonus. They are deferred pay. Let’s end the pensions lottery,” he said.