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DC pensions anger fuels tanker drivers' strike

29 March 2012

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Tanker drivers voting to strike are angry at their inability to move defined contribution (DC) pension pots with them to new employers.


All five of the haulage companies whose drivers voted to strike offer only a DC scheme to new members.


Three of the five keep their more generous defined benefit (DB) scheme open to those who joined it before the DC scheme opened – but in the case of one scheme, Wincanton, this was back in 2003.


A spokesperson for the Unite union, Alex Flynn, confirmed to Pension Funds Insider that tanker drivers saving into a DC scheme are the angriest.


Up to now most industrial action on pensions was launched by those with DB rights worried about losing them.


Flynn explained that many tanker drivers "go from contractor to contractor" and are frustrated at being unable to build a combined pension pot. "You have fellows who have accumulated five different pensions in recent years," he said.


The union mentioned "portable sector pensions" as one of seven key demands in a letter to the government ahead of a possible strike next week.


According to Flynn, Unite want an industry-wide pension system of portability and minimum standards to match that in the offshore oil industry.


The strike threat – turned into a crisis by panic buying of petrol – comes just months after consultants Barnett Waddingham warned of DC schemes creating "massive social and economic problems" in the future.