Daily Archives: December 8, 2008

Still in the Dark over Pensions

Diary Update
Scheduled for this Thursday, Dec 11th, 4pm: Employment Tribunals Case Management Discussion. See the Diary page for more info.

Phil Groom writes:

We’ve been raising questions about Pensions for some time now, but still seem to be largely whistling in the dark. The most recent discussions have been in the comments thread on Matt Wardman’s article, Durham Cathedral Shop Finances and questionable Saint Stephen the Great payments

Previous posts include:

Now, however, following a recent enquiry from a concerned former bookshop employee, Usdaw’s Legal Department have commented that they “are also having difficulty getting information out of the Church of England Pension Board.”

The problem, Usdaw say, appears to be that whilst the Brewers have paid some contributions, they have failed to provide the information needed about the staff that were in the pension scheme. Missing details include such things as the dates when people left SSG, which makes it difficult for the Pensions Board to work out what contributions should have been paid and correlate this with what has been paid. This seems to tie in with the Pension Board’s recently noted requests for copies of some workers’ payslips.

The situation is exacerbated, of course, by the Brewers ongoing failure to respond to enquiries. Usdaw have provided the Pensions Board with as much information as possible about Usdaw members but any non-Usdaw members who were in the pension scheme would be wise to contact the Pensions Board themselves.

Meanwhile, I’m sure Usdaw would love to hear from anyone who can help them fill in the gaps in their information.

Useful Contacts

Not So Useful Contacts


Advent in Exeter?

Phil Groom writes:

I’ve just stumbled across a rather challenging post from Paul Collings, a Methodist Minister in Exeter: Has Advent become a non-event?

Recently, a long established Christian Bookshop in Exeter, UK has closed and I sometimes wonder if I had to anything to do with its demise, by once suggesting to the manager that he should sell a different kind of Advent Calendar.

In the UK, we share the German Lutheran tradition of Advent Calendars where children of all ages open one door each day to receive a chocolate treat. I merely suggested that the bookshop should create calendars with empty compartments into which we place thoughts, gift promises and prayers. Perhaps it did not catch on! Or is it that today’s society is actually saying, “It is better to give than receive, as long as I’m still on the receiving end.”

Paul’s challenge is there for all of us: will we ever learn to give purely as givers, without expecting some sort of return? What effect would it have on our nation’s economy if everyone started giving without expecting to receive? 

I don’t think Paul’s suggestion had anything to do with the shop’s demise, but I was struck by how accurately his idea seems to sum up the problem with the Brewers’ attitude to the former SPCK Bookshops: as if they see the entire chain as their own personal chocolate-filled advent calendar from which they can take, take, take, but never put anything in…