- United Kingdom
“These agreements deliver the government’s key objectives in full, and do so with no new money since our November offer. These reforms will save the taxpayer tens of billions of pounds over the next few decades and significantly improve the long-term fiscal sustainability of this country.” Danny Alexander
The agreements would ultimately deliver the government’s agenda of making public sector workers work longer, pay more and get less in our pensions.
The key elements the government has wanted to impose remain intact:
· Increased Employee Contributions
· A Retirement Age rising in line with the State Pension Age to at least 68
· Replacement of final salary with worse career average schemes
· Pensions devalued by uprating them in line with the Consumer Price Index instead of Retail Price Index, cutting their value by 15%
The agreement is based on the Treasury’s “final offer” issued on 2 November, which allows for negotiation on elements in each pension scheme but within a fixed “cost ceiling”. As Francis Maude has made clear “The cost ceiling has not changed. We have not put an extra penny on the table”.
On 30 November we took part in the largest strike action in at least a generation, in an unprecedented display of unity across public sector unions. Dave Prentis rightly proclaimed it “an incredible success and one of the proudest moments of my career”.
We believe it is a fundamental mistake only a few weeks later to allow the government to now play divide and rule. This can only make it easier for them to push through the cuts in our pensions as part of their wider austerity programme of real pay cuts and massive job losses, making working people pay the price for a crisis created by bankers’ greed. There is too much at stake to allow the Con Dems to pick off unions one at a time or to seek to isolate others as they are clearly attempting to do with the PCS.
We therefore call on UNISON’s Service Group Executives to reject the “Heads of Agreement” and instead call for the resumption of further coordinated public sector strikes to defend decent pensions for all public sector workers.