Group of European Pensioners from Savings Banks and Financial Institutions


Index of documents > Euromeetings Magazine > Euromeetings Number 12


C U R I O U S Financial problems of the englisch associations


 MY first contact with our Euro Group occurred some ten years ago at the invitation of Pepe Lidon. I was attracted to the concept of meeting people from different countries but with similar back­grounds. My committee agreed to affiliate all our membership and have done so until now.


The TSB Bank Retired Staff Association com­prised eleven regions covering England, Scotland and Wales. Mine is the North West Region and has the largest membership. I circulated the chair­persons of the other regions at various times and at one time four other regions affiliated to the Euro Group. All our members paid a modest subscrip­tion and for each member we received an annual grant from the bank. The Bank refused me request to affiliate all our regions to the European Group. Lloyds Bank took over the TSB to form Lloyds TSB Bank Plc. And gradually removed various conces­sions enjoyed by pensioners as they cut costs. Alt­hough upset at these losses, protests by us fell on deaf ears and, of course, as pensioners we could not take an act on of prevent them.


Lloyds had a structure of luncheon clubs with grants from the bank to allow their pensioners to enjoy a subsidised lunch twice a year. Unlike us their luncheon clubs had no interest in the Euro­meetings. Indeed, again like us, they provided not­hing for their pensioners other than these twice yearly lunches. Our pensioner organisation provi­ded a variety of social, outings, newsletters, etc in addition to regular lunches. Both the Lloyds and the TSB pensioners agreed tat as we had nothing in common there was no sense in joining together.


Each year, as we supported the Euromeetings, we enjoyed different parts of Spain. The unique nature of the Euromeetings enabled us to build up many friendships with those attending from other countries. Something not available on commercial holidays where it is unlikely that one would meet anybody previously met.


Because of our involvement I became a Board member. I have a wide experience of U.K. pen­sions issues and am a qualified pension trustee. I have been a regular contributor to the Euro Maga­zine. Under a constitution drawn up by the bank we were limited by statute to social activity. We have no national committee and no forum in which to discuss ensions issues. Our meetings are purely socia An attempt to elect a national chair­person was refused by the bank. They did, howe­ver suggest that I could act as such in an informal way. This I refused.


To us the Euromeetings are a holiday with the facility, for those so interested, to participate in the political aspects of our work. I appreciate that other see it differently.


The eleven retired staff chairpersons met the bank's senior pensions officers on an annual ba­sis. In late 2005 Lloyds TSB stated that they would no longer be prepared to meet us and were with­drawing the bank magazine previously sent to pensioners.


We are now no longer even advised of the death of former colleagues. At the same tome they drastically changed the method of allocation of the bank grant . The details are too complicated for an article of this length. Sufficient to say that my region has lost around two thirds of our funding. As a consequence some regions have dissolved. For example the West Midlands and Wales region, that were affiliated to, and supported the Euromeetings no longer exist. My region decided to stay in existence but with a reduced level of acti­vity. This brings us up to date. Following fifteen months of under the new funding structure we held a delayed Annual General Meeting in March of this year. We have no lost as many members as anticipated. I asked both the bank and the Pen­sions Board to pay 1000 Euros to the Euro Group. Predictably they said no. They also said we cannot use part of their grant for any affiliation. We have used our members subscriptions for various pur­poses designed to keep in membership those una­ble to travel to our lunches. We simply cannot afford additional expense in Europe. The Europe­an Group cannot help us. I am sorry that because of our changing financial circumstances I am no longer a voting member of the board. I have been granted sympathy status similar to Ruth Rebert of Germany. From discussion with pensioner repre­sentatives from other participating countries I understand they have a more substantial financial input from members. Because of the limitations imposed on us by Lloyds TSB we cannot justify an increase in subscriptions. Our pensioners cannot get the level of service g we would wish. We have affiliated all 735 of our members to the Euro Group but no more than 40 attend the Euromee­tings. Because of the banks actions we have lost members and cannot justify using the remaining embers money when so few take advantage of the Euro Group.


My region, and my region alone, is affiliated to the National Pensioners Convention (NPC). This body is politically active in protecting and impro­ving the position of U.K. pensioners. With over two million members, representing the twelve million U.K. pensioners, Governments of any poli­tical persuasion cannot ignore the NPC. They rea­lise that pensioners are more likely to vote than younger people. In addition many of us are mem­bers of a trade union. The trade unions are the main source of income of the Labour Party and therefore have influence. Our members see these two bodies, and other active organisations on behalf of pensioners, as the means of dialogue with those with the ability to bring about change. They do not expect their Retired Staff Association to our former employers. As a former President of the Banking, Insurance and Finance Trade Union and as an active member of the Labour Party I wish our circumstances were different. In a perfect world we would be self financing: you cannot fight an employer with their money. Our friends in Swe­den are different again from the majority of those involved in the Euromeetings. They have meetings of former lay and professional trade union officials who worked in the finance industry. We have long been aware of the cost of servicing those of us from the U.K. who attend the Euromeetings. We are also aware of limited financial contribution that we have been able to make this activity. Lloyds TSB for instance will not advertise in the Euomee­tings Magazine. It is perhaps ironic that both the U.K. and Germany, neither of whom are poor countries, find ourselves in a similar position. You may not be totally happy with our relationship with your former banks. However the idea Lloyds TSB would host a Euromeeting in the U.K. with gifts to those attending, folders and pensions, etc is ludi­crous. Even more absurd is the idea that a senior officer from Lloyds TSB would attend such a gat­hering. They support the Institute of Directors and the Confederation of British Industry not organisa­tions that might have hostile views. The U.K. enjoys the worlds fifth largest economy. Lloyds TSB made a profit this year of 3.7 billion pounds and in sponsoring the 2012 Olympic Games in London. It is against this background that the U.K. has the worst State pensions in Europe. Lloyds TSB are not caring organisation being only interested in making a profit and their pensioners are no profi­table. They see their obligation to us as solely to pay our pensions. As a Euro group we nee to take account of the differing cultures in the countries that make up our composition. It is in this spirit that I was asked to write this article.



Barry Ingham