Greater worker control over pension funds makes good sense
HALIFAX, NS. – Workers should have greater control over pension funds, since the monies are actually deferred wages and not just investment funds for employers, says Danny Cavanagh, president of CUPE Nova Scotia.
“On Labour Day, we should pause to consider the hole growing in the future of our province,” said Cavanagh. “The cost of pension plans is rising while employers look to lessen their share. Add dubious investments like public private partnerships (P3s) to the mix, and it becomes imperative that workers gain more control over pension plans.”
Cavanagh noted that since both the employer and employee make plan contributions, both must have a say in their administration.
“Joint-trusteeship can help prevent pension plan managers from pursuing bad investments, such as public private partnerships (P3s),” Cavanagh said. “Workers oppose P3 pension investments not only because these privatization schemes go against their direct interests, but also because they are bad policies for people, taxpayers and communities.”
Cavanagh pointed to the recent P3 school fiasco as a reason Nova Scotians should be wary of such bad investments. He said that CUPE has been long concerned with the specific ways that our public sector pension plans are administered, the way they’re structured, and how their governing bodies are constituted.
There have been some recent improvements, he noted. School board workers have gained a degree of control over how their pension plans are governed, and there have been some small steps towards creating a province-wide pension plan for municipal workers. And, nursing home workers are now in provincial pension plans. All of this is progress, he said, and will fuel the efforts of workers without a decent pension plan to establish one.
“We’ll close that hole in our future by encouraging our members to mobilize local union members around specific pension plan and benefit goals,” said Cavanagh. “Workers need to establish a measure of control concerning benefit levels, indexing and a public investment strategy.”
“There’s room for improvements in all of our plans, to be sure,” he said. “And the road to making those improvements starts at the bargaining table, not behind closed doors with workers shut out.”
CUPE Nova Scotia president
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(613) 878 1431 (cell)