In an extraordinary move, the Tories have provoked the local government unions into withdrawing from the agreement they reached yesterday. Unite, Unison and GMB have just issued the following statement:
'The Local Government Trade Unions have been surprised by the response from Eric Pickles to the joint proposal from the unions and Local Government Association for reform of the LGPS.
'We understand the Secretary of State's response has subsequently been withdrawn.
'In light of this confusion, we therefore suspend our agreement and now seek an urgent meeting with government to establish an agreed way forward.'
Unite national officer for local authorities, Peter Allenson said: 'There is a real crisis of confidence and trust which really can only be restored by this urgent meeting as soon as possible.'
Heather Wakefield, UNISON head of local government, said:
“The announcement today from Eric Pickles undermines trust and confidence in the relationship with the government over negotiations surrounding the Local Government pensions scheme.
“In order to re-establish confidence, and a way forward, we hope that ministers will meet us as a matter of great urgency in order to get negotiations back on track.
“We are disappointed that a positive way forward appears to have been undermined in this way, and hope that government, the LGA, and the trade unions, can reach agreement on a way forward.”
Brian Strutton, GMB National Secretary for Public Services said, 'The proposed way forward for the LGPS, worked out by unions and council leaders, had been shared in advance with government and no problems had been raised. It is therefore all the more surprising that as Danny Alexander was announcing our agreement to the House of Commons, his Cabinet colleague Eric Pickles was completely undermining it. I think we need to restore trust and confidence urgently.'
Pressure from below has undoubtedly played a role in making the unions supend the agreemnt. We now need to step up that pressure.
This is a rotten deal: it needs to be completely rejected and new strikes announced quickly.