Black Workers, Pension and Poverty

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2012 National Black Members' Conference
21 September 2011

The Government’s plan to drastically reform public sector pensions will condemn many Black people to a life of poverty in their old age. Black people’s poverty in retirement is directly linked to the discrimination and low levels of pay they experience throughout their working lives in the labour market.

Conference notes the Runnymede Trust research that found that African Caribbean people are three times as likely as white people to experience poverty in retirement. Half of older Pakistani and Bangladeshi people live in poverty, as do almost a third of Indian and African people.

Conference is deeply concerned that 60% of Black people are likely to have no savings they can fall back on in their old age compared to 33% on average for the whole population.

Increases in employee contributions and the switch from RPI to CPI have already compounded the problem of pensioner poverty for low paid people, particularly women and Black workers. Further attacks on public sector pensions will directly impact on Black workers and their communities.

Black people who do have decent pension provision have them because they work in the public sector and because they were protected by their trade union. Black people in the private sector are left in an even more vulnerable position.

The Government is also proposing changes to state pensions that would result in increases in national contributions and lower levels of benefits being provided in pension schemes.

Conference notes that over the next few decades, Black communities will contain higher proportions of older people than previously. The changes being considered by the Government will therefore have a disproportionately detrimental effect on Black workers and how they make provision for their retirement.

Conference calls on the NBMC to:

1. Support UNISON in its fight to defend our members’ pensions.

2. Involve Black members in the UNISON Protect Our Pensions campaign.

3.Encourage Black members to sign up to be a UNISON pension contact or champion.

4.Encourage all our members to talk to friends, family, and any voluntary or community groups they belong to about why decent public sector pensions are important.