Sunday, February 28, 2016
The next attack on the pensions and redundancy rights of all public sector workers
The Government is currently consulting on what they euphemistically refer to as “reforms” of “public sector exit payments” – in other words a wholesale attack upon the rights of public servants facing redundancy.
You can read the complete consultation document online – and you should.
What began as an attempt to reclaim larger “exit payments” from senior staff made redundant and then re-employed progressed to an “exit payment cap” which (again) appeared to be targeted at the better paid (although it hits career public servants who are a long way away from being “fat cats”).
Having first picked the politically low hanging fruit by seemingly bashing senior managers, the Government have now revealed their true intention – to make it cheaper for them to sack hundreds of thousands more public servants on top of the many thousands who have lost their jobs since 2010.
The Government’s proposals include limits on the calculation of redundancy payments, which will impact upon some workers in the health service and civil service – though not so much in local government, where redundancy pay is already generally less generous.
However, local government workers in middle age will be particularly impacted by plans to limit the cost to public sector employers of allowing redundant employees access to unreduced pension benefits. This arrangement, which has been a feature of the Local Government Pension Scheme for many years, softens the blow of redundancy for those whose age makes it harder to secure alternative employment.
Many employees have been working, and contributing to pension funds, for decades with the reasonable expectation that they would have the benefit of this approach were they to face redundancy. Now it is clear that the Government is contemplating a range of options any of which will effectively remove the right to an unreduced pension for local government workers made redundant above the age of 55.
Redundancy payments were introduced in the 1960s – at a time before the statutory right to complain of unfair dismissal and when Governments were worried by the strength and militancy of workplace trade unionism, in order to make it easier for employers in declining industries to dismiss workers without facing conflict.
Over the years, various different redundancy arrangements have been negotiated in different industries and sectors (and the Government’s implicit contention that redundancy arrangements in the public sector are uniquely more generous than a homogenously more parsimonious private sector is manifestly incorrect).
Now our enemies see our movement as weak and so, as with our individual statutory employment rights they are coming to strip away our redundancy and pension rights (and to hell with their recent promise that they would not come back at our pension schemes for 25 years).
The consultation will run for twelve weeks and will close on 3 May 2016. Responses should be sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading “Consultation on Exit Payment Reforms”.
We need to respond this consultation – but we also need to rebuild our movement, the collective strength of which is and always has been the only real guarantee of our individual rights.