Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/397/4845

From The Socialist newspaper, 16 June 2005

We won't see you in Courts!

IN A growing international trend, workers' pensions are being subject to cuts and ever-diminishing conditions while executives are receiving astronomical retirement packages. After the furniture store Courts - a prominent feature in most retail parks - recently went bust, it was revealed it had a massive shortfall in its workers' pension scheme.

Gareth Davies

The first Courts store was opened by Henry Court in 1850, but only became a worldwide chain after being taken over by the Cohen Bothers in 1945. Courts then built up the wealth of the Cohen family - their 50% stake in the company was at one point worth 400 million.

Until 2001, the company had a healthy pension scheme for workers and a separate - yet not so healthy - scheme for the Cohens and other top executives. Their pension scheme had been stretched by the over-zealous pay rises they were granting themselves.

The company directors saw this deficit, which might affect their retirement years, and knew they must do something about it. In a shrewd move they merged the two pension funds, failing to notify the workers of this until it had been completed. They also withheld the fact that the new combined scheme had eaten into the workers' 3 million surplus and left it in the red.

The current deficit is a colossal 30 million, due to numerous questionable transfers from the general fund to the personal pension plans of Courts' directors. 4 million was extracted within three years of the merger, despite it already being in deficit.

In March 2004, Howard Cohen, a company director, withdrew 4 million from the fund to finance his own pension months before the collapse. Bruce Cohen, a Chief Executive who retired before the company went bust, enjoys a wholesome pension of 230,000.

Yet while they luxuriate in their retirement, hundreds of Courts' workers face an uncertain future. Some Courts' workers, furious at their former bosses, set up an Action Group to campaign for an independent review.

Stephen Ross, who led the report, said the merger of the two pension funds "wasn't in the interests of ordinary scheme members" and that it could "increase" directors' benefits while "adversely affecting" the scheme overall (something the directors were surely aware of). Despite these admissions, however, Ross found "no evidence of wrongdoing".

He went on to say that the trustees "acted with reasonable care, taking independent professional advice where appropriate and having regard to the interests of all members of the scheme", and concluded the merger was legal.

In deeming the plundering transactions as legitimate, the review further infuriated workers, who see it as a whitewash. It also let the directors off the hook. While they have greedily eaten into their own workers' pension scheme, they face no rebuke; neither financially nor criminally.

Many workers use private pension schemes as a crutch due to the pitiful state pension, but as in the Courts case this has been knocked out from under them. The worrying trend is that Courts is not an exception. Lately, both Allders and Rover workers have also fallen foul to pensions collapses.

Around 90,000 workers in the UK have lost their final salary pension promises in the past few years. In many cases the shareholders and the directors - often the very people culpable for the demise - will receive generous payouts, while workers face economic uncertainty.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 16 June 2005:

G8 debt deal won't end poverty

Come and join 150 young socialists from all over Europe

Capitalism unbound: the oil industry

Is nuclear power the solution?

Hands off our education!

New Labour's sham democracy exposed

On the public sector front line

We won't see you in Courts!

Striking against the two-tier workforce

Saving Royal Mail from the vultures

Pakistan: Government clamps down on telecom protesters

Mugabe tightens his grip on Zimbabwe


 

Home   |   The Socialist 16 June 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Pension:

triangleLecturers strike around country in defence of pensions

triangleUniversity workers' walkout for decent pensions

triangleLecturers vote for strikes against pension cuts

triangleUCU members balloting for action on pension cuts

triangleThe Socialist inbox

Pensions:

triangleBosses divided - university pension strikes can win!

triangleUni strike: coordinate public sector fightback

triangleRoyal Mail forced back under threat of action

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

23/2/18

UCU

Lecturers strike around country in defence of pensions

21/2/18

Strike

German engineering strike puts shorter week on agenda - but could have won more

21/2/18

Cardiff

Cardiff Refugee Rights gig success

21/2/18

Nottingham

Nottingham hospital black alert

21/2/18

East Midlands

Lively discussion at East Midlands Socialist Party conference

21/2/18

West Midlands

Tremendous determination on show at West Midlands conference

21/2/18

Wales

Successful Socialist Party Wales conference sets tone for the year ahead

21/2/18

Bradford

Bradford protests against kids' service cuts

21/2/18

May Day

May Day, May Day! Celebrate solidarity!

21/2/18

Kirklees

Labour councillors push through savage cuts in Kirklees budget

21/2/18

Salford

Save Salford nurseries!

21/2/18

Caerphilly

Victory: Pontllanfraith leisure centre saved

21/2/18

Council

Northants council crisis - protesters demand an end to cuts and privatisation

21/2/18

Leicester

Leicester Uni makes Tory fee tripler David Willetts chancellor - sack Willetts!

21/2/18

UCU

Bosses divided - university pension strikes can win!

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999