Date 2 December 2005
UNISON to mount challenge over attack on Local Government pensions
The UK President of UNISON, Scotland's public service
union, will announce that the union intends to challenge the proposed
removal of the rule of 85 and other detrimental changes to the Local
Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) announced by John Prescott on Friday.
Christine Wilde is in Scotland to speak to the union's
Scottish Council meeting where UNISON branches from across Scotland
will be represented. The meeting takes place at 10.30am on Saturday
3 December at the Hamish Wood Building, Glasgow Caledonian University,
Christine Wilde, Mike Kirby and other officials will
be available for interview before and after the meeting. Contact
Chris Bartter (below) for access. The rule of 85 allows (LGPS) members
to retire at 60 on an unreduced pension if their age plus years
of service equal 85.The union has consistently called for Scotlandís
local council staff to be given the same conditions as that offered
to the civil service, NHS and teaching staff.
"The Local Government pension scheme is the worst
off of the schemes," Christine said. "And yesterday's announcement
threatens to undermine it and attack long-serving and hard-working
public servants. UNISON is currently investigating a legal challenge
to the changes and we will not shirk from industrial action to defend
membersí rights should that prove necessary."
The union points to differences between the attitude
of local councils north and south of the border. Whereas the English
employers were arguing strongly for this rule to be removed, CoSLA
refused to accept their arguments that the rule was discriminatory,
and have not argued for its removal.
Mike Kirby, UNISON's Scottish Convenor, said "Despite
no support from Scottish employers or employees for this detrimental
change, if it is adopted in England it is likely to be foisted on
Scottish staff, as the Scottish Public Pensions Agency have made
it clear they do not want separate pension arrangements from those
in England and Wales. We need to make the government see sense and
return to fair treatment for local government staff. They have paid
into this pension all their working lives, unlike employers who
took pensions holidays and reduced funding of the schemes."
The union will also be discussing other major issues,
such as the funding of equal pay and the need for public services
to be recognised as a positive contributor to the Scottish Economy.