Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Error of judgement on pensions

Yesterday's decision by the Court of Appeal that the Government acted lawfully when they unilaterally changed the basis of uprating of occupational pensions in payment gives a seal of approval to a massive transfer of income from retired workers to employers and the state (http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/116851).
Our movement was slow to respond with sufficient vigour to this gross theft when it was first announced in June 2010 (http://jonrogers1963.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/unisons-retired-members-under-attack.html?m=0) - and the initial official response was weak (http://jonrogers1963.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/osborne-has-cut-our-pensions-shall-we.html?m=0) but when it came to persuading our members to take action on 30 November our pensions calculators showed very clearly the scale of loss to be expected as a result of using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather than the Retail Price Index (RPI) to increase occupational pensions annually after retirement. It was clear that this disgraceful act of robbery - breaching the principle that accrued pension rights should be protected, as well as specific pre-election assurances from the Coalition parties (on the 27 April 2010, Philip Hammond said on behalf of the Conservatives "Indexation of pensions in payment is an established part of pensions legislation. The Conservative Party has no plans to change the current index-linking of public sector pensions in payment. We agree with the view that the right to indexation of pensions already accrued is part of the accrued pension rights and those rights will be protected.") - was part of what we were fighting against when we took strike action.
However, when Heads of Agreement were proposed in December (or - in relation to the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) - when we came to Agreement with the Local Government Association (LGA) about principles) this was on the basis that uprating would be in line with CPI.
In effect, having told our members that their action on 30 November was, in part, in opposition to the change to uprating, our negotiators promptly abandoned this as a bargaining objective and put the uprating of all our nest eggs in the litigation basket. This turns out to have been an error of judgement.
All of which goes to show that it's no use relying on the legal system to provide justice for working people.
If we want to secure pensions justice then next Wednesday's strike action in Greater London (http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/116850) shows what will be required.
UNITE's decision to call on their members to support pensions protests next Wednesday (http://union-news.co.uk/2012/03/unite-health-service-members-to-join-demos-during-m28-strike/) indicates perhaps how this morning's meeting of UNISON's Greater London Regional Committee should also respond.
All who can should support next Wednesday's London strike demonstration - assembling at 11am in Malet Street (http://www.teachers.org.uk/node/15321).

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange





No comments: