Unite Health NISC rejects Government’s “final offer” on pensions

Unite’s Health National Industrial Sector Committee today rejected the government’s “final offer” on NHS pensions “reform”. Unite has 100,00 members in the health sector including a wide range of health professionals, pharmacists, speech therapists, technicians and laboratory assistants etc.

Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey said: “Our NHS executive unanimously reject the government’s pernicious attempts to make hard working and dedicated NHS staff pay more, work longer and get less when they retire.

“The government’s attacks public sector pensions is politically motivated, as part of an overall design to privatise the NHS, cut public services, break-up the national pay agreements, and disrupt legitimate trade union activities and organisation.”

Len McCluskey said Unite would continue to campaign against the reforms proposals, which include increasing contributions, pegging the NHS pension age to the state pension age and the uprating of benefits from the RPI rate of inflation to the less buoyant CPI.

Unite’s concerns centre on three areas:

  • A high proportion of NHS staff will see their pension contributions jump from the current 6.5 per cent to 9.3 per cent by 2014/15, and other staff will see their contributions leap by nearly 50 per cent, with some paying 14.5 per cent of their salary into their pensions.
  • The linking of the NHS retirement age to the ever-increasing age that people will receive their state pensions. The state retirement age is set to rise to 66 in 2020 and 67 by 2026, with the prospect of working even longer in future decades. Unite is concerned that, for example, paramedics and nurses could be doing heavy lifting into their late 60s.
  • The proposed accrual rate for NHS staff is worse than the planned rates for other public sector schemes. Because this will be based on career average earnings, it will hit women who had taken career breaks to raise their children hardest.

The Unite Health NISC is due to meet again on 11th January to formulate future strategy.

Unison, the largest public sector union, holds a meeting of its public services executive next week. Unison represent more than one million local government and health workers, the reaction of Unison’s activists next week is viewed as a key factor in determining the next move in those schemes.

NASUWT, one of the teachers unions holds its executive on tomorrow but has already stated that it has not signed up to the framework agreement for education pensions. The National Union of Teachers has also reserved its position. However, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the National Association of Head Teachers have signed up to the framework agreements on education pensions.

The Public and Commercial Services Union, (PCS) the largest civil servant union has  rejected the civil service framework and holds its executive next week.

The non TUC British Medical Association, which represents 130,000 doctors and medical students, has launched a survey of the NHS proposals. The association, which last took industrial action in the mid 1970s over junior doctors’ working conditions, did not take part in the 30 November action. The BMA said that even though improvements had been made to the original offer, doctors would still be “hit hard”, with those at the start of their careers facing the prospect of paying over £200,000 in additional lifetime contributions

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