This evening I went to make a submission to Tower Hamlets Council Pension Committee with a UNISON colleague, Julie. Both of us use to work for Tower Hamlets Council as housing officers. Julie worked in the Isle of Dogs and I worked in Bow. In 2005 Julie and her colleagues were tupe transferred into what is now called Riverside Housing Group.
I was tupe transferred in 2007 into what is now called Clarion Housing Group. At the time of transfer all of us was promised by our new employers, that we could keep our entitlement to a Council Pension scheme. I am the only one left in Clarion who use to work in Tower Hamlets and Julie is only one of 5 left in Riverside from these transfers. Other Clarion UNISON members are in the London Merton fund, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Kent and Surrey.
Now, Clarion have decided to go back on its promises to around 60 of its staff and similar promises to keep a decent pension scheme for another 220 staff. They are planning to enforce this by "Fire & Rehire" dismissal process on 1 December 2023.
Riverside have only just started a "consultation process" but it is clear from the paperwork I have seen that they boast they have got rid of similar pension promises before and no doubt they fully intend to do the same again.
We pointed out that if organisations break their promises to their staff, then Councils will be concerned that they will also break promises to residents, planning committees and strategic partners.
We were allowed to make a short verbal submission and leave a briefing note. Many thanks to the Chair of the Committee, Cllr Kabir for allowing us to speak. Also to all the Councillors present, who make it clear their dissatisfaction with what is going on and that they have other serious concerns about Clarion and Riverside as landlords.
In particular, Cllr Rachel Blake and Cllr Abdal Ullah, who pointed out that there are also long standing concerns about Clarion breaking past promises and they moved that Council officers should investigate this issue and the Committee should write to Clarion and Riverside.Julie made by far the most important submission by pointing out she had 37 years of service (I have only 30) to residents and she had been planning to retire in 3 years time. If this proposal goes ahead it will wreak her pension plans and due to her age she will have no time to make up the loss.