Socialist Worker

Reject shoddy local government pensions offer

Issue No. 2314

On strike last November (Pic: Wendy Cox)

On strike last November (Pic: Wendy Cox)

Ballot papers have gone out in the Unison union’s ballot on whether to accept cuts to the local government pensions scheme (LGPS).

The GMB union’s ballot began last week. Local government workers should reject the deal.

On 30 November last year, 2.6 million public sector workers struck against the Tories’ plan to force them to pay more, work longer and get less.

But in the deal these three pillars are still standing:

Pay more: Contributions won’t rise. But working for so many years longer means workers would pay far more before they retire.

Work longer: Pensions will be linked to the state pension age. This means workers will have to retire at 68. And future changes in the law could see that rise even higher.

Get less: The shift from final salary pension schemes to “career average” schemes means a big cut to pension payouts. The maths is complex, but it means every time you get a pay rise you lose out even more.

The unions say there have been concessions. This is true, to an extent—most significantly, the pledge that the vast majority of local government workers’ pension contributions will not increase.

It was the magnificent 30 November strike that won this from the government. But a one-day strike did not get everything that could have been won.

In particular there was no movement over the retirement age. More action over pensions could force the government to retreat further.

Despite attempts by the Unison leadership to stop them, left-led branches are campaigning to win a rejection in the ballot.

The “yes” campaign is based on pessimism. Voting no is the best way to show there is still the will to fight. And it would boost the wider fight against the Tories across the public sector.

» More on the LGPS offer

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Tue 31 Jul 2012, 16:51 BST
Issue No. 2314
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