All power to Dave's elbow. Let us be absolutely clear. Public sector pension funds are not in crisis. They are not unaffordable. They are not "gold plated". The massive 50% plus proposed increase in contributions as well as increases in retirement age are an excuse to cut spending. Nothing more and nothing less. So nurse, teachers, carers, receptionists and town hall clerks are being forced to pay for the past theft, fraud and corruption of the financial services sector and the Banks. Who are now returning to their bad old ways with huge increases in their bonuses and bankrolling their mates in the Tory Party. While at the same time said public sector workers are having their pension contributions increased they are facing years of pay freezes while inflation cuts their pay by 5% per year (and gas prices going up by 20%). If pension subs go up by 50% many people will leave the schemes and they could collapse.
Only a few years ago there was a serious dispute over pensions which brought about radical change. Much of which the unions were not happy about but compromised in order to secure the funds future. Now this agreement is being ripped up. Forget the fibs and scare mongering of the Daily Hate and the Tax Evaders Alliance. The Local Government Pension Scheme is cash rich and worth over £160 billion. The NHS pension scheme has a cost sharing agreement. If employer contribution goes over 14% (close to the traditional final salary norm) then the employees will bear the cost. Even the Conservative Party dominated Public Accounts committee accept that public penisons are affordable. Finally, never forget that Hutton found that the average public sector pension for a women is only about £4000 a year.
Dave Prentis makes it clear that he still wants to negotiate and that we will not be taking industrial action for industrial actions sake - but as a means to get an acceptable agreement. Dave quite rightly expects the full support of the Labour Party over this dispute. I am pleased that Newham Council recently passed this motion at our Annual General Meeting.
Tomorrow UNISON begins its Service Group conferences in Manchester and its National Delegate Conference begins on Tuesday morning. Pensions will be the top issue.