Wednesday, 11 January 2012

What N30 and the one day of Strike Action achieved.

No apologies for nicking this from the North Somerset UNISON Blog, they did an excellent job in wrapping up some points which all UNISON members may find useful.

What we have gained from taking Industrial Action:

A clear commitment to avoid contribution increases. There will be no contribution increases from April 2012. These have now been postponed until 2014, and may not be necessary at all if alternate ways of making savings can be found.
Retaining Admitted Body Status, which means if you transfer to the private sector you keep your pension, or at least a broadly comparable one
Suspension of the formal consultation with government for short-term savings - from now on we'll be negotiating with Local government employers for a new scheme starting in 2014
Flexible retirement age of 55-75, with actuarial adjustments made by the link to the state retirement age
Protection for those within 10 years of retirement
Equality impact assessment at each stage
What hasn't changed:

There has been no movement from the government on bringing public sector retirement ages into line with the state pension age, which is increasing from 65 to 66, 67, and 68 depending on how old you are currently.
There has also been no movement from the government on the linking of pension increases to the CPI rather than the RPI – UNISON and other trade unions have taken this to the court of appeal.
The new LGPS scheme will be a career average rather than a final salary scheme, although this is not necessarily a bad thing for low paid female workers, but is dependent on decent accrual and revaluation rates.
In summary then local government workers won't have to pay more (at least until 2014), but they will have to work longer and they will get less when they retire (unless the courts overrule the switch from RPI to CPI).

Danny Alexander has promised that what is agreed as part of the current negotiations will last for 25 years. Can we believe him?

If UNISON members agree to these principles for negotiation, then between January and April this year UNISON will undertake further negotiations with the employers on the value, distribution and phasing of any employee contributions (I think the fact that this is even mentioned indicates that we're not sure that there will be no increases in 2014), accrual rate, revaluation rate, transitional protections, and employer cap and collar.

UNISON members in Local Government now have to decide what the next steps should be. We have 2 choices:

Either we:

Reject the principles and timetable for further negotiation and commit to further industrial action.

Or we:

Agree to the principles and timetable for further negotiation. If these negotiations fail then we still have the option of further industrial action as we are still in dispute and our ballot is still live.

UNISON members in Local Government may want to consider whether what we have gained is enough - have we won enough ground to suspend industrial action? In addition, can we be sure that there will not be an increase in employee contributions in 2014? The government still want £900 million in savings from the LGPS - how are they going to get this £900 million if not from increased contributions? If we are not sure, then agreeing to this framework simply means postponing the inevitable. But if we agree now, when other trade unions do not, then we may find ourselves without the backing of our sister trade unions if we face the threat of increased contributions for 2014.

NHS Pension Scheme

This is not an agreement or a deal but is the government's final offer for the NHS scheme.

What we have gained from taking Industrial Action:

A significant improvement in accrual rates to 1/54th
Those within 10 years of retirement will continue in their current existing pension scheme and will continue to be able to retire at 55, 60 or 65, depending on what scheme they're in. There will be additional tapered protection for those within 13.5 years of retirement
Retaining Fair Deal, which means if you transfer to the private sector you keep your pension, or at least a broadly comparable one
No contribution increases in 2012 for those earning less than £26,557 full-time pay (about 48% of workforce, and 70% of UNISON membership), although there will be further discussions on increases for future years.
What hasn't changed:

Contribution increases from April 2012 of between 0 and 2.4% for those on a pensionable salary of £26,557 or more.
Further discussion on contribution increases for all NHS staff for 2013 and 2014.
There has been no movement from the government on bringing public sector retirement ages into line with the state pension age, which is increasing from 65 to 66, 67, and 68 depending on how old you are currently. Although there will be a review of pension ages for those staff who undertake physical work, such as emergency services.
There has also been no movement from the government on the linking of pension increases to the CPI rather than the RPI – UNISON and other trade unions have taken this to the court of appeal.
The new NHS scheme will start in 2015. It will be a career average scheme, although this is not necessarily a bad thing for low paid female workers, but is dependent on decent accrual and revaluation rates.
In summary then, those earning under £26,557 full-time salary won't pay any extra contributions (at least until 2013), while those earning above that salary will pay more from April 2012. All NHS workers will work longer, and will get less in retirement (unless the courts overrule the switch from RPI to CPI).

Danny Alexander has promised that what is agreed as part of the current negotiations will last for 25 years. Can we believe him?

UNISON members in the NHS scheme now have to decide what the next steps should be. We have 2 choices:

Either we:

Reject the final offer and commit to further industrial action.

Or we:

Agree to continue negotiations on the final offer and then consult members on the final package. If these negotiations fail then we still have the option of further industrial action as we are still in dispute and our ballot is still live.

UNISON members in the NHS scheme may want to consider whether what we have gained is enough - have we won enough ground to suspend industrial action? Again the question I think we need to ask is what's going to happen to contribution increases in 2013, particularly as the government is still committed to securing Spending Review savings of £2.3 billion in 2013/14 and £2.8 billion in 2014/15. How else can they get these savings if not from increased contributions? Given that at least half of NHS workers will pay more, work longer, and get less, is this really a good enough deal to suspend further industrial action? But if we agree now, when other trade unions do not, then we may find ourselves without the backing of our sister trade unions if we face the threat of increased contributions in 2013.
 
UNISON members need to decide what to do next

UNISON members have now got to decide what they want to do. Are members prepared for more industrial action to protect their pensions? If they are then I think we should hold out for more, because neither offer is really good enough, particularly if assessed against what we campaigned against – "pay more, work longer to get less". On 30th November we showed what could be achieved when trade unions stand together. Public sector unions need to stick together, not just to oppose the changes to our pensions, but to oppose the pay freeze, pay cap, and cuts to terms and conditions, jobs and services.

But if UNISON members do not want to take further industrial action, then they will need to accept what's on offer, which has been outlined above.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

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