Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/469/1962
Local government pensions
Time for action!
WHILST EVERYONE else was preparing for Christmas, in true scrooge-like manner, the new local government pensions regulations were being laid before parliament. These regulations will become law on 1 April if we cannot force any changes during the consultation period, which ends on 28 February.
Glenn Kelly, UNISON NEC, personal capacity
Over the last year, time and time again UNISON has mistakenly backed off in the vain hope that the government and courts will be nice to us and listen to our pleas not to go ahead and attack our pension rights.
We agreed to hold off starting a strike ballot in November, in order to "allow talks to continue". What has another month of talking delivered? We haven't won enough to warrant further delays in fighting back.
The main attacks are: People under 50 will be forced to work up to five years longer or lose up to one third of their pension if they still want to retire at 60.
Contribution rates will still be increased to 5.5% on the first £12,000 and then 7.5% on the rest of income.
Workers earning £16,000 a year or more will pay more for less benefits.
They still want to introduce a cost-sharing scheme by 31 March 2009, which will be an excuse for a further increase in contribution rates.
Members unfit to do their local government job but fit for other work, will lose their right to an enhanced pension.
The right to take an unreduced pension at 50 if made redundant will go in 2010. After that, workers will have to be 55 or over. Even then the employer is legally bound to consider whether to reduce the benefits or not.
The UNISON joint service group executive is meeting on 10 January to decide what to do next.
I believe the government is stringing us along and it's time we showed them how serious we are and start the ballot for national strike action.
We must not allow the government to drag out this dispute to get them past the May local and assembly elections.
A special conference, which has at last been called for 6 March, should be used for the members to take back control of the dispute and give the lead that is lacking from too many at the top.
In The Socialist 11 January 2007:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Violence against women
Socialist Party review
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news