Wednesday, May 09, 2007

LGPS - it gets worse...

Since I have been too busy to blog much recently I shall take the liberty of stealing the following report from the UNISON Local Government Service Group Executive meeting yesterday from comrades John McDermott and Vikki Perrin from Yorkshire and Humberside – the news on the Local Government Pension Scheme is not good…

"Officers gave an update on the ‘negotiations’.
Most of it was bad news.
There is no immediate move from the Government to extend protection of the 85Year Rule to 2020.
The contribution bands have changes and instead of being like a tax allowance in that you pay lower contributions on the first £12k of earnings. There are now more bands 5.5-7.5% and members will pay the set percentage on all earnings.
The transitional regulations promising 5% workers a phased increase over 3 years have not been produced.
No movement on part time workers paying contributions on full time equivalent earnings. Heather Wakefield stated that UNISON still thought this was discriminatory but had legal advice it could not be challenged through the courts until after April 08.
Ill Health Retirement, second tier, will only apply to workers who are 45 years and older from April 08.
Members will only be able to get pension based on best 3 years in last 10 if they have agreed to stay on reduced earnings or have accessed a flexible retirement option. Otherwise it is the best year in the last 3.
Term time workers will have pension contributions based on term time pay not full time equivalent.

The Head of Local Government stated she felt that UNISON had been lied too by Government Minister Phil Woolas and that it had implications for the relationship with the Labour Party.
There are a few meetings with other trade unions over the next few weeks.
There was intense lobbying of Government ministers over the protection issue, it was hoped that there maybe movement over the next few days but there was a large amount of scepticism.
Several delegates stated we should not be surprised about Government lies, we had heard them before.
Vikki Perrin, John McDermott and Glen Kelly argued to recommend rejection of the current regulations and move to a consultation ballot.
Some delegates stated that we should not reject the regulations as there are some good points.
A vote was taken.

7 Delegates voted to reject and move to a ballot.
17 Delegates voted to recommend acceptance if additional protection was offered and ballot.
Nobody voted for a proposal from the General Secretary that we should ballot as the best that could be achieved by negotiation.

There was no report given but after the meeting we spoke to a member of the NJC Committee who said there was a meeting with the employers 21st May, where some progress is expected. There is then a meeting of the NJC 22nd May where an update can be given.
There is also a meeting of all the Public Sector Trades Unions at the TUC in the next few weeks to look at a joint coordinated approach.

Members will recall that at the special pensions conference branches were persuaded to vote against a ballot for action on pensions on a number of promises,
More protection of the 85 Year Rule
No discrimination against part time workers
Justice for 5% workers.
There was no stance taken by the union on the employers cut in contributions.

The reality, at the moment, is that the Government and Employers lied to UNISON officials who then passed on the lies to conference.
UNISON officials have been ‘duped’ not for the first time on this issue.
This is not acceptable on all sorts of levels.

We believe that we cannot deal with this Government and employers with any degree of certainty and should ballot to reject the current regulations and move to an industrial action footing as soon as possible.
This should be used to gain improvements and focus Government and Employers minds these important issues.

There is LGSGE 5th June to discuss a full agenda including Pay and Pensions."

Thanks to the comrades from Yorkshire for providing such a useful report!


Anonymous said...

You will recall the motion at last years NLGC which called for immediate industrial action in support of our pensions, which was narrowly defeated. When members ask what has happened to their pensions we shouldn't be afraid to point out that the leadership's unwillingness to fight brought us to this point.

I really think that UNISON's close links with Labour only served to weaken our position. We could have taken strike action on the eve of the local elections in April last year but the leadership pulled back merely on the basis of talks (which we now know to have been fruitless)

By the way congrats on some excellent articles here - I've become an avid follower of your blog!

UNISON member
Sandwell Council

Anonymous said...

Just to make another point - when were our members last asked about their views? Oh yes, when they overwhelmingly voted for industrial action in 2006!

What a sorry state of affairs we have now. Following defeat on UNISON's legal challenge we have nowhere to go. The current proposals represent a defeat as Jon has pointed out. No doubt we will have a ballot on the basis that the proposals represent "the best we could have got". What a joke!

Sandwell UNISON member