NFU News

When did you last raise your hand?

PENSIONS. Current tendencies in our sectors point at short-term solutions aimed at pleasing investors by boosting the market value of the companies. In the end of the day, through our pension funds, insurance funds, the state pension funds and our own conflict funds, we too are investors. And we too have a voice. The question is: are we using it?

We see all too clearly the consequences of the corporate strategies these days. As management sings in a choir of “cut costs, cut costs”, they are laying off staff in great numbers. Whilst their reasoning is questionable – especially in the light of their own rather large wage increases, and massive growth in dividend payments – they nonetheless are happening. To please the investors, the rating agencies and their market value.

The thing that makes all of this a little muddled is that we too are investors. Not only as individuals, but also as trade unions. So, as one hand is being pleased by the short term boost of profits and increased share values, the other is being sawn off as our own, or our colleagues, jobs are sacrificed in the name of short-termism.

So what possible strategies should we take upon ourselves in this dilemma? In London we met with the grass-root organisation Fair Pensions. Their mission is to secure Responsible Investments that cater for long-term environmental, social and governance interests. They urge us, as individuals and as trade unions, to use our votes at AGMs to ask the necessary questions regarding the consequences and sustainability of the funds’ investment strategies.

In the end of the day, they claim, we will all be losers if the workforce is treated poorly leading to down-skilling, un-involvement, insecurity and mistrust. We too will lose if our environment no longer can support our industry and service needs. We too, will lose if only a tiny minority sit on the vast majority of wealth.

Addressing the long-term sustainability of our funds’ investment strategies and priorities seems like a win-win strategy for us. It is certainly one worth looking far more into as information about actual investments policies are hard to find. See you at your pension funds next AGM?

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