Aberdeenshire UNISON

No strike ballot on pensions in England and Wales

English and Welsh delegates to a special Local Government Conference in London on 6th March, voted by a majority to continue negotiations on the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) south of the border and ruled out a strike ballot at this stage.

Your branch delegates to the conference were Ian McDonald and Kate Ramsden. They heard that the negotiations so far have resulted in many improvements on the original proposals from the employers and the scheme as it stands has many benefits for lower paid workers, who form a majority of the scheme members. Talks are continuing to press for further improvements.

Those calling for a strike ballot argued that members who turned out in March 2006 to oppose the loss of the Rule of 85 feel let down by the new scheme and would be prepared to vote for another round of strike action to give backbone to the negotiations.

Delegates arguing against a strike ballot at this stage pointed out that, as in Scotland, there will be a full consultation of members through ballot on whether or not to accept the finalised scheme. If members are not happy with the proposals a strike ballot will be held then.

Scottish and Irish delegates were not allowed to vote as the conference focussed exclusively on the LGPS in England and Wales. However, much of the debate was relevant to the Scottish position where we may be faced with similar decisions once the proposals for the "new look" scheme in Scotland are finalised.

The conference also highlighted the need for all the schemes to be "equality proof" in relation to gender, race and disability, and spelled out some of the challenges for our Scottish negotiators.

For further information on the LGPS in England and Wales click here.