Wednesday, July 04, 2012

LGPS - supporters of the deal play their joker!

In a marvellously measured and temperate contribution to the legitimate debate about whether UNISON should recommend that our members accept or reject changes to the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS 2014) a notoriously sane and reasonable fellow NEC member offers a whole new reason why we should accept a less favourable deal on pensions (whilst dressing it up as better than it is) (

Far be it from me to voice criticism of those who engage in electronic communication late at night (whether or not having imbibed) but I do wonder at the wisdom of his argument from the point of view of those who would see us accept the package that has been negotiated.

In a blog post of sound and fury, in which all is black and white with no shades of Gray, my fellow blogger concludes not only that all Branch Secretaries who oppose the proposed settlement are "extremists" but also that they should not highlight shortcomings in the plans for LGPS 2014 because if they do, members may opt out of the scheme, leading to an old age of penury, the blame for which can be laid (according to the self-proclaimed leading pensions expert in the small world of the UNISON blogosphere) entirely at the feet of these reckless "revolutionary" Branch Secretaries.

Not only is this apparently ill-considered rant likely to offend the many moderate branch activists who have made a balanced judgement that, as it stands, LGPS 2014 should be rejected, more importantly the central argument stands exposed as completely flawed.

If we were to take the view that we should recommend acceptance of any worsening or cheapening of our pensions (provided only that the resulting scheme was better than the awful "money purchase" option available from the private sector) we would inevitably invite further attacks.

I don't think we should infantilise our members by seeming to assume that they cannot understand two things at once. UNISON members are quite capable of concluding that LGPS 2014 is less favourable overall than LGPS 2008 and that we should reject it and strike on for more, whilst simultaneously understanding that, if we lose, any defined benefit occupational pension scheme is better than the absence of such a scheme.

There is a risk of opt-outs from the LGPS (and that's a risk that is threatening to Councillors because of the knock-on effect on local government finance) - but that risk is as much about the pay freeze as it is about pensions themselves.

Overall I think my fellow NEC blogger should calm down before a totally over-the-top post blows his cover as a long term "sleeper" for the far left, sent in (by some obscure faction) to discredit the arguments of their opponents with vitriol and exaggeration.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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