Brian Strutton, GMB's national secretary for public services, is quoted online as saying that "The unions and the LGA have been expecting ministerial sign off for our proposals which we amended at governments request and re-submitted earlier this month. Unfortunately officials from the Department of Communities & Local Government and Treasury told us today that ministers were raising a further three issues."
This is interesting for two reasons. First, it is a public acknowledgment that, having done a (secret) deal with the employers and sent it to the Government, our world class negotiators response to the Government seeking changes (in a deal we aren't allowed to know about) was... to make those changes.
Now there are three possibilities;
(A) The Government thought the deal was insufficiently generous to employees and demanded changes in our interest, or;
(B) The Government sought changes which had no bearing upon the value of the scheme to its members, or;
(C) The Government thought that the scheme exceeded their "cost envelope", was too generous and demanded changes detrimental to our interests.
Somehow I think option (C) is most likely, which does - at least - mean that we will be spared the awful recommendation that what is on offer is "the best that can be achieved by negotiation" since we all now know that the LGPS proposals with which we will be presented will fall short of what was in fact achieved in negotiations between unions and employers.
The second reason that Mr Strutton's disarming honesty is of interest is that he makes clear what any novice negotiator would know, that if you make concessions to the bullies in this Government they will certainly come back for more.
I understand that the negotiating team - on both trade union and Local Government Association (LGA) sides - are keen to get the deal approved by ministers so the consultation with union and LGA members can start before the association, Unison, GMB and Unite hold their annual conferences next month.
Because Conferences are large gatherings of elected delegates with a legitimate right to express an opinion, and make recommendations, clearly they must be the last bodies anyone would want to be able to pass judgement on the work of world class negotiators.
I await word from UNISON...
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