Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Another way to ignore UNISON Conference policy and break UNISON Rules...

The accident-prone ballot of UNISON members expected, according to the script, to deliver a resounding acceptance of proposals for the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) has hit another problem.

The LGPS 2014 proposals acquiesce in an increasing pension age and the uprating of pensions in a way which reduces their value by 15% (thanks to the use of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather than the Retail Price Index (RPI) for uprating).

However, the Unions's Local Government Service Group Executive (SGE) has recommended that members vote to accept the scheme and - in consequence of this recommendation - some over zealous officials have been making dark threats of action against elected branch officers implementing locally agreed policies to campaign for rejection.

I've blogged before about why, in general, this unnecessary heavy handedness is contrary to UNISON Rules, and also about the lamentable failure of officials to comply with a clear Conference decision that an Equality Impact Assessment of the proposals should be published before we balloted members.

Today I had the misfortune to read an unsolicited pamphlet produced jointly by the trade unions and employers, which reproduces wholesale misleading "examples" comparing benefits under the current and proposed LGPS - which were subject of criticism by UNISON's Local Government Conference.

Local Government Conference agreed Emergency Composite Motion Three as follows;
 
"Conference notes that proposals for the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) were released on 31 May 2012.
 
Conference further notes that the factsheet "LGPS 2014 - Examples", published on UNISON's website on 31 May uses different assumptions for price and earnings growth than those used in the UNISON pensions calculator publicised in protect our pensions newsletters and used in the run up to our ballot for industrial action on pensions.
 
Conference believes that, in the interests of consistency and transparency we should use the same assumptions in published examples illustrating the LGPS 2014 as we used in the pensions calculator.
 
Conference therefore resolves to instruct the Service Group Executive to ensure that the examples published to date are reissued to reflect the same assumptions as those which underpinned our pensions calculator, and that these are issued to all branches, pensions contacts and with the ballot paper."
 
Not only has the SGE failed to comply with the specific instruction to ensure that such examples were issued with the ballot paper but the Union has circulated bulk copies of the joint trade union-employer document on LGPS 2014 which repeats precisely those "examples" to which reference was made in the Emergency Composite.
 
In accordance with Rule D.3.5.1, the SGE's overall control of Service Group policy is subject to the powers of the Group Conference which, in accordance with Rule D.3.4.2, determines the policy of the Service Group. 
 
The SGE has failed to implement Conference policy to ensure that the examples published to date are reissued to reflect the same assumptions as those which underpinned our pensions calculator, and that these are issued to all branches, pensions contacts and with the ballot paper.

It's a good job that I'm still in a good mood after a lovely holiday or I might be slightly irritated by the time I have to waste responding to misrepresentation and misinformation issued in breach of UNISON Rules.

No informed observer genuinely believes that the LGPS 2014 proposals (taken in the round and considering the changes to pension age and pension uprating) are truly better than LGPS 2008. The real reason why national officials want us to accept is that they lack confidence in our ability to fight on for a better deal.

That's a point of view. It ought to be honestly expressed so that it can be reasonably debated.

That's the debate we should have had but have been denied by persistent refusal to comply with the Rules of our Union.

Which is a shame.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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