Thursday, July 19, 2012

Letter to Chair of Community SGE on LGPS 2014 proposals

Dear Kevin

Please present my apologies to today’s Community Service Group Executive (SGE) meeting on the proposed new Local Government Pension Scheme 2014.

I have a long standing family commitment.  would however like to make a report to the SGE on what I believe to be the merits of the LGPS 2014 (England and Wales) proposals.

I will declare an interest. I am a member of the LGPS and have been for around 18 years. Three other members of my immediate family are also members of the LGPS and we are all dependent on the scheme for financial security in our old age. The scheme needs to be made sustainable to ensure this.

My branch carried out the consultative process of members about the proposed new scheme. Out of the 1400 members consulted the response was poor but all members who did respond were in favour of the new look 2014 scheme and no-one was in favour of taking industrial action against it. There is no appetite whatsoever in my branch, my service group nor (I understand) my region for any strike action on this issue. 

Why would there be? Since we should be celebrating LGPS 2014 as a significant victory for the Union and the labour movement! Brought about by collective campaigning, lobbying, mobilising and effective industrial action.

In many ways LGPS 2014 is actually an improvement for our members. Pension build up (accrual) will increase for all but 90% will pay the same or less. The existing final salary pension scheme discriminates against low paid women workers in favour of highly paid senior managers and Chief Executives. This is just wrong. Most members will do better under LGPS 2014 than 2008. Not only low paid women but nearly all part time workers and those who rely on non contractual bonuses and overtime to live on.  The 50/50 option will be a godsend to hard pressed members who due to cuts and pay freezes feel forced to leave the scheme.

In our Service Group (and others) the 2014 protection and extension of “Fair Deal” is absolutely crucial. Members being TUPE transferred will not have to accept 2nd class pensions schemes and will still be able to keep their LGPS pension if transferred again (and again). This requirement will also scare off the more blatant and obvious quick buck profiteers who don’t want to take on the responsibilities of a decent pensions scheme.  It will remain a world class guaranteed defined benefit scheme.

It’s a no brainer in my view. Let us support the LGPS 2014 in the forthcoming ballot and make this affordable and sustainable scheme a bench mark for all pensions for all workers. 

(Oh, and please forgive the miserablists. In the future they will be citing the success of the LGPS as an example of what you can achieve by industrial action)

John Gray
UNISON National Executive Council Member for Community & Voluntary sector.

UPDATE: LGPS 2014 endorsed overwhelmingly by SGE's see here

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