Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pensions "silver bullet"? A lycanthrope's views...

UNISON Active deserves a hat tip for blogging the widely anticipated news that the Local Government Pension Scheme is to be exempted from the contribution increases proposed for other public sector pension schemes (http://unisonactive.blogspot.com/2011/07/fund-mergers-silver-bullet-in-lgps.html). (Although I really don't understand, comrades, why you blog anonymously! Whether lay activist or full time official, you are surely free to express your views?)(Remember there are now no enemies in the hall...)

I'd like to believe that this positive development (http://m.professionalpensions.com/professional-pensions/news/2095677/lgps-freed-contribution-increase-rule) is primarily attributable to the "the sustained pressure of evidence produced by UNISON during the negotiations" as UNISON Active say, but it occurs to me that lobbying by the (Tory controlled) Local Government Employers (http://www.lge.gov.uk/lge/core/page.do?pageId=119455) may have played a significant role.

I'd also like to believe, as the anonymous blogger does, that "fund mergers will deliver (the Government's target) saving without imposing costs on scheme members or further reductions in pensions for retired members" (even though I still want us to fight the 15% reduction in the value of my pension due to the imposition of CPI for uprating!) UNISON Active say that fund merger is the "silver bullet" in negotiations around the LGPS.

Merger of the separate pension funds has been the Holy Grail at UNISON HQ for a number of years, but if it were to reduce the ability of individual local authorities to determine their employers' contributions (taking account of actuarial advice) this could turn out to be something of a poisoned chalice for local government workers. I'm not saying it's a bad idea - just that it needs careful thought and that it is incautious to start suggesting now that there is some sort of "silver bullet" in negotiations over the LGPS.

In particular, if we emerge from the premature "scheme-specific" negotiations into which we have allowed ourselves to be frogmarched without protecting both the right of private sector workers to be part of our pension schemes, and the requirement upon transferees to match public sector pension provision then we will be offering up hundreds of thousands of our jobs to the profit-hungry multinationals which leech off the taxpayer.

I'm all for negotiating deals without the need for strike action, but you never get the best deal you can without at least mobilising for action - and you don't do that with idle talk of "silver bullets."

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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