ACTU President Michelle O’Neil has described the Government’s recent changes to superannuation as a ‘dastardly plan’ to dismantle the super system, a system “that other people in the world are really jealous about.”
Speaking with On the Job, O’Neil explained how our superannuation system evolved, and exactly why we need to protect it.
“It came about because unions fought for it, because the vast bulk of working people were retiring poor and they couldn’t live with dignity when they’re old.
“So, winning a right to have a retirement with dignity by having enough money to live on and pay your bills and look after yourself when you’re old, it was such a basic thing about justice and the fact that we’ve got a superannuation system that was built on that is a great thing.”
As well as a providing a more dignified retirement, O’Neil pointed out the importance of industry funds that handed back control to workers when it came to how their super would be invested.
“[Superannuation] was also built on the idea that we should have funds we’re working people have a say about what happens with the money that goes into these funds. So that’s what a thing called an industry fund is,” explained O’Neil.
“It’s a fund that has a board made up of representatives of unions to be the voice of workers, but also the representatives of business. So, it’s got to be employers on it, it’s got unions on it to say, well, how do we make sure this works for everybody?”
But according to O’Neil this is something the Federal Government hates.
“The Federal Government hates this. They hate industry funds, they hate industry superannuation, the hate the idea that ordinary working people are going to have a say about their money. So, this is another bill that they’ve put through that’s designed to damage those funds and support the for-profit funds.”
From the raft of changes to superannuation, the ACTU President is particularly concerned about the ramifications for women, explaining that we need to be increasing super, not tearing it down.
“We need to keep building it up. Because today, if you’re a woman, and you retire, you retire with half the super that a man does.
“That’s because women come in and out of the workforce, and they’re more likely to be in insecure jobs, and get less pay than men do.
“So, women form the biggest group of homeless people over the age of 55 and growing.
“That’s because we haven’t fixed dignity and rights in your retirement and that’s why super is so important.”