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Local government workers' pensions
Strike back at Labour's attacks
LAST WEEK the government announced more attacks on the local government pensions scheme. They plan effectively to abolish the right to retire at 60 without a reduction in pension (the 85-year rule.)
Glenn Kelly, UNISON national executive
These attacks should be the trigger point for a national strike ballot. The policy of UNISON's Local Government conference is that the minute there's an attack on the scheme, a strike ballot will be triggered. That is what I intend to ensure is moved at the local government executive meeting on 6 December. We should announce after the meeting that there's going to be a strike in order to defend our current pension scheme.
What is also concerning is hints in the background of other areas of negotiation. The government has half promised to look at the scheme for low-paid and part-time workers. But at the same time, they're saying there's no money from local or central government for it. The only way improvements could be made to the pension scheme would be to rob out of one member's pocket to pay for another. That would be completely unacceptable.
The UNISON national executive and the TUC should name the date for the national demonstration on pensions. That would unite public and private sector workers.
This attack could mean tens of thousands of pounds lost for UNISON members. And a two-year increase in the retirement age means the loss of £8,000 for every existing worker. This rubs salt into the wounds.
The immediate response from the union, instead of announcing a strike, was to go to a Judicial Review. This is a diversion, when have we ever relied on people sitting in the House of Lords to bail out public sector workers?
This deal covers all council workers, all the members in the scheme in higher and further education and members in the civilian side of the police and fire services. So this could be a massive strike. Also the firefighters still haven't got a deal so this would be an opportunity to link up with the firefighters in joint action.
In The Socialist 8 December 2005: