Pension power

Most UNISON members pay into a work pension fund. These funds are invested, including in companies on stock markets around the world, and the profits help to pay for pensions.

So you are not just a pension fund member but also an investor.

By getting involved in deciding how those very large funds are invested, we can help make this money work for members, society and the general economy.

Pension assets

There’s a lot of money involved: UNISON members’ pension schemes have investment assets worth more than £215bn.

They cover local government; the Environment Agency; energy, water and transport companies; the charitable sector; higher education and private contractors running public services.

UNISON is working with members who have become pension fund trustees to make sure investments are made in the interests of scheme members.

Executive pay

Directors’ pay and bonuses are put to a vote of shareholders.

As an individual shareholder, your vote at a company AGM would count for little, but if your pensions scheme voted against excessive pay this could have a real impact.

While they are unlikely to be able to swing votes on their own, the union group aims to maximise their influence by linking up with other pressure groups

Brian Groom

The Financial Times, 25 March 2013: “Trade unions challenge over social issues”

Fair wages

If pension schemes decide to invest only in companies that pay the living wage, this would be a massive boost to the union’s campaign on that issue.

Banks and banking

Most of us hold shares in banks through our pension funds. Shareowners can help to push for more responsible banking.

Who owns what?

UNISON’s capital stewardship programme has undertaken major research – Who Owns UK Public Services Plc? – on who owns all of the companies providing public services.

LGPS governance

From April 2014, all Local Government Pension Scheme funds must have pensions boards with 50% scheme member representation.

UNISON is campaigning to improve member representation in the LGPS and to modernise governance of the funds.


What you can do

  • Get informed – discuss your pension scheme and its fund at your local union meetings.
  • Ask your branch or regional officer to provide speakers and information about this issue.
  • Become a branch pension contact – know who your pension fund trustee or LGPS rep is and get active amongst the members.
  • Become a UNISON capital steward – an LGPS rep or a trustee on your scheme and help to protect its future.