UNITED Co-operatives is providing a £ 3million boost to its two main pension funds as part of its continuing support for its successful Stakeholder Strategy.
The boost for the funds comes in the form of special contributions agreed by the United's Board of Directors and is seen as a clear sign of the society's commitment to maintaining final salary schemes for its employees, despite what might be happening elsewhere on the pensions front.
United hopes that its lead on this important issue will be followed by other co-op societies and is calling on the Government to give its backing to businesses which support the continuation of final salary pension schemes.
United representatives will meet Treasury minister Ruth Kelly later in the year to seek backing for such schemes.
United Chief Executive Peter Marks (pictured) commented: "We have always considered that providing a good pension scheme for our staff is an essential part of our co-operative difference and one of which we are justly proud.
"The Co-operative Movement was one of the first organisations to introduce pension schemes for its employees and I hope that the whole Movement will give its full backing to maintaining this key benefit for all its staff."
Added Mr Marks: "Thanks to our continuing financial success, we are well-placed to maintain and develop our Stakeholder Strategy, which rewards our staff for the crucial contribution they make to our successful business.
"However, we also need government to do its bit in supporting businesses which are committed to maintaining final salary schemes. The present government must do far more to encourage people to provide for their later years."
Mr Marks went on to point out, however, that United's generous support for the strategy could only be maintained at its present level, let alone developed further, while the society continued to enjoy a period of sustained profitable growth.