Connected Research

Union policy research in the 21st century

Barclays re-thinking pension plans?

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Media reports indicate that Barclays, which is engaged on a formal consultation process concerning the closure of its defined benefit pension scheme to existing members, may be having something of a re-think.

The reports come from a shareholder meeting held yesterday, at which Marcus Agius, Barclays Group chair, responded to a question from a shareholder about the decision by admitting that the company was looking at ‘what enhancements we can make’ to the offer being made to members of the final-salary scheme – presumably, the ‘offer’ here refers to existing members of the scheme being offered membership instead of the hybrid cash balance scheme that the bank already offers new staff.

This is all very far from thinking that the company is on the brink of announcing a reversal of the closure decision (though – who knows?). ‘Enhancements’ can, of course, mean a variety of things. But it does represent, at least, something of a chink of light. The company has clearly been disturbed by the organisation of Barclays staff in opposition to the closure – there was a rowdy demonstration at yesterday’s meeting held by members of Unite, which is fighting the closure decision on behalf of its members and which has threatened an industrial action ballot after 92% of members in a consultative ballot said they wanted one – and there is thus good reason to think that the company’s position may be shifting.

The formal consultation period ends today. The period in the next few weeks is thus crucial as Barclays, which on Monday announced an 8% rise in pre-tax profits to a figure of £3bn for the first six months of the year – sifts through the no doubt weighty responses it has received and liaises further with the scheme trustees, who occupy a crucial role in any decision to change pension arrangements. Keeping up the pressure will be essential in terms of securing further – and better – ‘enhancements’ that the company appears now to be considering and, indeed, in terms of securing the workers’ aims of ‘hands off our pensions‘.

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Written by Calvin

07/08/2009 at 2:49 pm

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