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Local government pensions: New deal in the offing?
LOCAL GOVERNMENT workers have been fighting, and striking against, plans by their employers and the government to attack their pension plans. The workers want, for example, to defend their right to retire at the age of 60 if they have at least 25 years' service (the '85-year rule').
A recent letter to local councils from the Local Government Association (LGA), the council bosses, says: "Up to 50% of the savings accruing from the abolition of the Rule of 85, and consideration of the savings from the revised commutation arrangements [are] to be made available to fund scheme improvements, including protection of arrangements for existing staff, and creating a more equitable and affordable scheme."
This seems to indicate that a deal is in the air for the council workers' pensions scheme. If this is so then, as usual, the devil will be in the detail. As we go to press there is much speculation about its exact meaning.
The union leaders have made it clear that what they expect is that existing members of the pension scheme should have at least the same protection as other public-sector workers.
Next week's paper will carry a more detailed explanation of developments as they unfold but it is clear that the mass strike on 28 March, by a million council workers and others, shook the government once again and forced what seems like concessions from them.
In The Socialist 13 April 2006:
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