The ongoing dispute over the local government pension scheme (LGPS) is set to reach another important stage over the next few weeks. Proposals by the government show it has not listened to the unions.
The proposals do not offer any further protection for existing members, while proposing an increase in employee contributions – particularly for part time and manual members of the scheme.
The proposals also reduces the employers' contributions. The government wants to attack current redundancy rights of those over 50.
The news that the Unison union had rejected the proposals will be welcomed by thousands of members across the country.
However, a failure to immediately commence a ballot for industrial action has left many puzzled as to the strategy of the union in defending our pensions.
The Unison local government service group executive says, in a motion for the special confenrence on pensions to be held on Tuesday 6 March, that the delay is due to there being two negotiating meetings arranged.
The executive states that it will decide on industrial action at its special meeting on 8 February. Would it not have been better to go into talks with a ballot for strike action to bolster our negoiationg position?
The likely outcome is that there will be nothing on offer at the talks and that a ballot for industrial action will be initiated on 8 February.
All branches should start now be campaigning among their members for strike action now. It is essential that branches register their delegates for the special conference on 6 March, which is likely to take place while a ballot is running.
The conference should decide the form of action taken. In order to be effective, whatever action is decided must be taken by all the members.
Most importantly it should not be selective or regional. It must constitute strike action of more than just one day.