Thursday, 28 July 2011
Pensions: we need a little less conversation, a little more action
The Higher Education Service Group Executive (HESGE) has called for an industrial action ballot to be in place by mid-late August and for the NEC to liaise with all other public sector unions over a timetable for 'phase 2' of industrial action in defense of our pensions (see full statement below).
We welcomed phase 1 of the action being led by other unions and call for unity in action with those unions who already took action on 30th June.
Together, we are stronger: for us UNISON members in education, that means in particular coordinating our action with our sisters and brothers in the UCU and all other teaching unions.
Having heard the latest from the repugnant Danny Alexander today, I say the sooner the better... Did anyone really believe the Government would go into scheme specific talks in good faith?
Talks are going nowhere so far in part because we don't have enough leverage.
When we start our ballot for action, that will help to focus their minds. So let's stop the delay - we've had a year to prepare for this - let's get on with it!
We need 'a little less conversation, a little more action ... A little more bite and a little less bark!'
LOCAL GOVERNMENT PENSION SCHEME
This SGE notes:
1) That the proposals being put forward on Public Sector pensions by the Treasury Team led by Danny Alexander as revealed in the Guardian on 19 May 2011 exceed the worst fears of public sector workers for the future of our pensions.
2) The strike action by NUT/UCU/ATL/PCS on 30 June
The treasury proposals endorse all the detrimental changes put forward in the Hutton report which include:
* Increased contributions
* Raised Retirement Age
* Replacement of final salary schemes with career average
Critically they also include proposals to change the annual rate of accrual of pension entitlement in a career average scheme to 1/80, 1/90, or 1/100.
The current accrual rate for a final salary pension in the LGPS is 1/60. Most pensions experts agree that in order to deliver broadly comparable benefits the accrual rate for a career average scheme would need to be significantly adjusted in favour of scheme members – the civil service career average scheme for example is 1/42.
It has already been estimated that this change alone could require a pension scheme member who would currently be entitled to a pension equivalent to half their final salary after 30 years contributing to work a further ten years to achieve a similar level of benefits.
These detrimental changes are amplified by the change from using RPI to CPI to uprate pensions and the proposal to end the fair deal on pensions announced on 11 May 2011.
The proposals leave no room for doubt that the government proposals are based not on any need to make change to promote the long term viability of the schemes but on an ideological drive to undermine public sector pensions in a way that threatens the continued existence of the schemes themselves.
We welcome the action taken on 30 June as the first phase of united and co-ordinated strike action to defend all schemes.
1. Calls on the NEC to take all steps necessary to ensure that a lawful industrial action ballot can be taken at any point from the middle of August onwards
2. Liaise with other public sector Trade unions to agree a date for united industrial action on pensions in early august.