Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Hands off ALL our pensions!

Last week the Higher Education Service Group Exec (HE SGE) had an emergency meeting on Friday to reaffirm our position on Pensions and support the call for a national ballot to Protect our Pensions. In a two-hour briefing with all those SGEs in the LGPS we then broke off into our separate Service Groups to agree to move to a national ballot (Health are meeting today, apparently, to discuss the NHS scheme).

After passing an enabling motion unanimously, (the text of which will be circulated soon), we went on to discuss how to win a huge yes vote.

One big question for Higher Ed branches is what do those branches who aren't in the LGPS do? And what about the Scottish branches? Those in SAUL aren't in dispute, and some branches have a few members eligible for the USS scheme which UCU just re-balloted their members over (and got a 77% yes vote).

If you're not in one of the 60-odd HEI's that are going to ballot, then get in touch with your local, regional HE reps/ FTO about how your branch can get involved in the 'fight of our lives'. We need to be as creative as possible to find ways to go all out together on 30th November - so your ideas will be welcome.

Some branches with a small number of USS members might well try to ballot over those changes, others might just join rallies on 30th if not actually go on strike that day. We also recommend asking management of HEIs not to deduct strike pay (LondonMet HR officers didn't actually laugh out loud when I put this to them on Monday) - and it might also be worth asking your employer in advance what they will do if your members refuse to cross UCU picket lines on 30th November if they're out over TPS or USS.

I also pointed out that when the ballot comes from the Electoral Reform Services (ERS) it would be better if the envelope had UNISON's logo on it, (not just 'ERS' : who are they?!). I know in our branch people just throw these letters away thinking they're junk mail... We ended up putting this post with a photo of the envelope up online to let people know (via email) what to look out for which is a bit ridiculous ... (hence photo, top).

Considering my recent post on virtual organising - I had raised this at the D&O committee too - this probably needs to be overcome in the longer term.

Anyway, here's the speech from our Dave, which I doubt anyone has missed, but just in case you were on Mars last week and need to catch up:

'Hands off our pensions!'

"Today, as general secretary of UNISON, I give formal notice to 9,000 employers that we are balloting for action," declared Dave Prentis when he opened the TUC debate on pensions this morning.

"And in moving to industrial action, I commit UNISON to work with our sister unions the GMB and UNITE."

He described government plans for public service pensions as "an unprecedented attack on ordinary working people – an audacious and devious means to pay for the greed of others."

See the full report here: http://www.unison.org.uk/news/news_view.asp?did=7213

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