You know Francis Maude is fibbing about being close to a deal on public service pensions because he’s saying it in public – anyone who has negotiated a settlement knows that megaphone diplomacy does not accompany a constructive end game. He says that union leaders are being irresponsible by supporting strike action but, for my money (quite a lot of it looking at the pension calculator!) the only irresponsible statements are from those leaders who say of the Government’s recent pronouncements that they “welcome the government's concessions, and say as they had come at ‘the 11th hour’ they need to be studied carefully to make sure ‘they stack up’.”
This is nonsense. The Government are offering nothing in relation to the uprating of pensions by the CPI and nothing in relation to the immediate increase in pension contributions (in the LGPS mitigated by contemporaneous immediate worsening of accrual rates in the interim scheme). In relation to future accrual rates they offer only to leave us with sixtieths in a (cheaper) career average scheme and, as to the “protection” of those within ten years of retirement this is to be achieved within a cost envelope, and therefore at the expense of younger workers.
Such public equivocation from leading trade unionists can only give succour to our enemies in the Government. Perhaps UNISON should make sure all other union leaders have read our useful handout which explains how little the offer means. We need our leaders to stand firm at a time like this and not to be shaken by the bluster of Tory Ministers.
Whilst the Government try to shake the confidence of the weakest of our leaders, the rank and file are getting organised locally and nationally. I didn’t get to the Unite the Resistance meeting yesterday as I was busy elsewhere, but learn online that it can be recalled with both optimism of the will and pessimism of the intellect. Now is certainly the time for rank and file organisation on a pan-union basis in order to support those amongst our leaders who see the need for action, and to reinforce the confidence of those we send to speak on our behalf.