Delegates voted to fight against the government’s attempts to raise the pension age.
Paul Kenny, the GMB general secretary, said, “The bosses think pensions are an unnecessary burden on private enterprise. The pensions industry believes it has a licence to print money for itself. They are both wrong.”
Barry Camfield of the T&G union said, “What we need is a living pension. The state pension is the equivalent of earning only £2.10 an hour on a 40-hour week.
“It is ridiculous that working people are expected to work until they are 68 or 70.”
There was consensus that people could not wait until 2012 for a rise in pensions as the government wants. However it was less clear what opposition to government “reforms” would entail. There was no discussion of the outcome of the 28 March public sector strike.
Instead there was a call for people to write to their MPs in support of the local government pension scheme.
Amicus union delegate Ian Allinson said, “The bosses claim they can’t afford to pay decent pensions, yet the boss of my company got a pension of £1.7 million last year.
“Our scheme is closed to new members. Gordon Brown says that we can’t afford decent pensions, but he can afford wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
“The question is not just to support the proposals, but how are we going to organise to make it happen.”
The TUC also passed a motion demanding that pension rights are protected when jobs are transferred to another employer.
Over 150 people crammed into a meeting on Monday to hear an update on the campaign for a Trade Union Freedom Bill. The TUC backed calls for a national demonstration over the issue next year.
Some 80 people attended a lively Stop the War meeting on Monday to talk of the need to mobilise for the 23 September protest in Manchester.