Ending Discrimination in Pensions Provision

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2003 Energy Service Group Conference
4 March 2003
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that the issue of pensions has never been so much in the public eye, with widespread concern about the ability of schemes to deliver security in retirement. Conference further notes that Energy members belong to a number of different pensions schemes, which have different terms and conditions.

Conference welcomes the fact that some of these schemes – including the Centrica scheme – do not discriminate against unmarried partners in the payment of surviving partner’s benefits. Indeed over 90% private sector schemes now recognise unmarried partners. However, a number of the schemes that our members are in, like the main public sector schemes, restrict such benefits to married partners only, a fact that the members concerned are not always aware of.

Conference notes that this affects both opposite sex and same sex unmarried couples. The Government has stated that – despite the fact that lesbians and gay men may not marry – this will not constitute indirect discrimination against lesbians and gay men under the new sexual orientation discrimination legislation. UNISON continues to challenge this legal view.

Conference instructs the Energy Service Group Executive to work with the Water and Environment Service Group Executive and the Transport Service Group Executive via the Business and Environment Work Group:

1.Publicise information to members about the provisions of the different energy schemes in relation to surviving partner benefits;

2.Continue to press for an extension of all schemes to pay benefits to unmarried partners.

Conference calls on branches and individual pension scheme members to raise this matter with their trustees and lobby their MPs for change to the statutory schemes.