Nearly two decades ago. Robert Maxwell – former Labour MP, newspaper tycoon and (so it turned out) conman died after ‘falling’ off his luxury boat. Soon after all the scandals he was involved in were revealed to an amazed world. He was living a great big lie and – worst of all – it was at the expense of those former and then-current employees of the Maxwell-owned Mirror Group who discovered that their pension fund had been milked dry by Maxwell. Here is a letter we have received from one of those who suffered as a result:
a fully paid up member of the Association of Mirror Pensioners I’ve
just received my Autumn edition of our magazine, ‘Mirror Pensioner.’
association is run by retired Mirror workers who have done sterling
work on our behalf since Robert Maxwell went for his fatal ‘swim’ in
the Atlantic on November 4th 1990.
we approach the nineteenth anniversary of this event I don’t recall
any tears being shed at work that day about his passing. He had no
friends among the workers, but he did among others who he made rich
at our expense.
tears came a month after his death (By suicide, murder or accident.
Take your pick!) when we learned that £400,000,000 was
‘missing’ from our pension funds.
funds are supposed to be built up by contributions from workers and
employers. However, during ‘good’ times these funds, which are
invested in stocks and shares, go up in value. They sometimes reach
a level where all of the fund’s commitments could be met. During
such periods the bosses take a ‘contribution holiday’ but not so the
if there is a big drop in the economy, the funds can and do drop
below these commitments. This is ‘unfortunate’ for the worker
contributors but ah well, that’s life!
it was also ‘legal’ for the bosses to use the pension funds as if it
was their own money. This is not now supposed to be the case, but
don’t hold your breath.
Bob was a master at playing with other people’s money including our
pension funds. He managed to ‘lose’ or salt away £400 million
course that money went somewhere and although a little of it was
recovered there are a lot of greedy people with sticky fingers who
are yet to be discovered.
want to make it clear that playing about with workers’ pension
funds was not illegal. But we pensioners have always said that, if
it looks like theft and smells like theft, then it probably is theft.
how it feels to have paid in for years to try to retire a bit early
and find that you must go on closer to your three score and ten!
present owners of Mirror Group have made sizeable payments into the
funds but not enough to rebuild them yet.
of course, we have been whacked again.
I said above, at times funds go down. And how! Our funds, which at
the end of 2007 had deficits of £162.3 million, by the end of
2008 had deficits of £456.2 million! This is a result of the
tricks and dodges of the bankers that were also, of course, not
illegal. If it looks like theft and smells like theft……."