Unite ballot comes as a number of unions, notably in education, prepare for 2nd coordinated pensions strike on 28th March


Unite begins a consultative ballot of its 100,000 NHS members from today on whether to accept the government’s current pension proposals.

The union is recommending that members reject what is on the table in the ballot which closes on 19 March.

Despite three months of talks, the union says there has been no change to the government’s proposals and that the Department of Health has already printed up material showing the new contribution rates from 1st April this year.

Unite General Secretary, Len McCluskey said: “This government has made negotiating in bad faith into an art form. The fact that the DH has printed up glossy brochures stating the new rates before the talks have concluded demonstrates this all too clearly.

“Health workers will still have to pay more and work longer to get a smaller pension. Members can send a clear message to the government by rejecting their current proposals. Once more, Unite calls on ministers to enter into meaningful and genuine talks on public sector pensions.”

A number of unions, particularly in education – are preparing for a second round of coordinated industrial action on pensions on 28th March.

In the NHS, doctors are to ballot for industrial action short of a strike and UNISON health workers in Scotland are poised to take further industrial action aimed at pushing for improvements in the current offer from SNP ministers on the separate NHS pension scheme north of the border.

Separate negotiations are continuing on arrangements for local government workers.

Unite says its continuing concerns centre on three areas:

the linking of the NHS retirement age to the state pension age. The state retirement age is set to rise to 66 in 2020 and to 68 soon after, with the prospect of working even longer in future decades. Unite is concerned that, for example, paramedics and nurses could be doing heavy lifting into their late 60s;

a high proportion of NHS staff will see their pension contributions jump from the current 6.5 per cent to 9.3 per cent by 2014/15. Contributions will average 9.8 per cent by 2015;

the career average (CARE) scheme will deliver lower benefits for many members compared to the final salary pension scheme.

We will have full analysis of the current state of pensions negotiations and preparations for further industrial action later.

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