Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Members accept pensions deal

Last week’s publication of the result of the ballot of UNISON members on the future of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS 2014) demonstrated a decisive majority to accept, with a 90% yes vote on a 20% turnout. There is now a clear UNISON policy, determined by UNISON members, to accept the LGPS 2014 proposals.

Whilst there will be continuing negotiation on various important points of detail (and likely debate about certainaspectsof the conduct of the debate) this development takes local government workers out of whatever was left of the unified fight around public service pensions which we were waging last 30 November.

Overall, the Government have secured significant reductions in the value of our pensions, most notably through the successful imposition of the change in uprating of pensions in payment announced in June 2010.

This was an attack which revealed a great deal about the ambition of this Government, since it was made in the context of an “Emergency Budget” aiming to close the deficit in the lifetime of one Parliament, yet it is an ever increasing cumulative reduction in the value of future pensions which will save the Government and employers far more in twenty years time than it ever could in this Parliament (as is explained in this Parliamentary briefing paper).

A fortnight after that attack was made, I pointed out that the TUC’s initial responsedid not suggest a fight back.

It was another five months before a campaigning response emerged on this issue.

Although we referred to the question of uprating in our materials in the run up to the 30 November strike we had, by that time, more or less committed ourselves to a hopeless legal challenge.

I won’t go on at great length on this topic as I did that a few months ago, but it is obvious that we missed an opportunity to fight sooner and harder against a measure which will transfer an estimated £83 billion pounds out of the hands of retired workers over the period 2011-26 (including those who are otherwise “protected” as they are within ten years of retirement).

In the two years since the Government announced this massive theft from working people, our movement has not grown stronger. If we now seriously mean to resist the continuing pay freeze we need to find a different approach.

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