Government proposals on pension reform due to be unveiled in a White Paper next week must pass "a series of tests", the TUC has warned.
Lord Turner's Pension Commission is crucial, the TUC says
The White Paper offered a "once in a generation opportunity" to get the detail right, general secretary Brendan Barber said.
Among the TUC's five demands is a call for a timetable to be set for index linking the state pension to earnings.
And the union said a fairer deal should be offered for women.
"The future of pensions is too important to be seen as part of the Westminster soap opera, with reports concentrating on Whitehall's winners and losers," Mr Barber said.
"Of course, getting pensions right is neither easy, pain free, nor cheap, but the real winners must be people at work," he added.
"Lord Turner's Pension Commission provides a once in a generation opportunity to achieve a new pensions settlement, and almost everyone appears to accept its basic framework."
The five tests were being set by the TUC to try to ensure the commission "get the detail right", Mr Barber added.
The TUC has also asked if it will be compulsory for employers to contribute.
And it has asked if the new National Pension Saving Scheme will be simple, secure and low cost - and how it will be paid for.