UNISON’s elected representatives have voted to give the union’s negotiators the
green light to continue negotiations on changes to public sector pensions.
At a pensions summit in London this week, the feedback from every UNISON region was that the majority of branches and members backed continuing negotiations. The summit discussed
the details of the proposals for the Local Government and NHS pension schemes and agreed to the frameworks negotiators have developed with UK Government ministers since November 30.
At the summit, General Secretary Dave Prentis made it clear that UNISON took action for industrial reasons, because negotiations broke down. But the strength of the action brought UK Government ministers back to the table to negotiate properly. He said: “We will carry on negotiating over pensions - because that's what we do as a trade union and because it's what our members want. But at the same time - we are still in dispute and our industrial action ballot is still valid for further action if needed.”
These frameworks cover the schemes in England and Wales although, particularly in the NHS, they have implications for the Scottish pension schemes.
UNISON’s approach to the next stage in Scotland was set out by UNISON Scottish Convener Lillian Macer who said: “As the Scottish Government has the responsibility to address these issues in Scotland we call upon Scottish Government Ministers to explore a distinct Scottish solution for the public service workforce."
There is a separate NHS pension scheme in Scotland but it has closely followed the England and Wales scheme because the UK Treasury funds it and therefore has a veto over the scheme regulations.
The NHS Scotland Staff Side Trade Unions have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Health to formally request specific NHS meetings to explore, in the words of the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, “practicable and workable alternatives to the proposed increases”.
This initiative is aimed at exploring the prospects of a Scottish solution. As in local government, the separate Scottish NHS ballot remains live.
The offer known as ‘The Heads of Agreement’ is at: