The government’s latest proposals on NHS pension ‘reform’ - the ‘Heads of Agreement’ document - were unanimously rejected by Unite, the largest union in the country, today.
Unite’s health sector national industrial committee (HSNIC) rejected the ‘Heads of Agreement’ as a basis for a satisfactory outcome.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: ”Our NHS executive unanimously rejects the government’s pernicious attempts to make hard working and dedicated NHS staff pay more, work longer and get less when they retire.
”The government’s attacks on public sector pensions are politically motivated, as part of an overall design to privatise the NHS, cut public services, break-up the national pay agreements, and disrupt legitimate trade union activities and organisation.
”Unite believes it is important to continue a campaign to maintain a fair and equitable system of public sector pensions and calls on ministers to enter into real, genuine and meaningful negotiations on the future of NHS pensions and public sector pensions.”
Unite’s concerns centre on three areas:
- 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, and other staff will see their contributions leap by nearly 50 per cent, with some paying 14.5 per cent of their salary into their pensions.
- The linking of the NHS retirement age to the ever-increasing age that people will receive their state pensions. The state retirement age is set to rise to 66 in 2020 and 67 by 2026, 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.
- The proposed accrual rate for NHS staff is worse than the planned rates for other public sector schemes. Because this will be based on career average earnings, it will hit women who had taken career breaks to raise their children hardest.
From the BBC website:
The Unite union has rejected the government's latest offer on public sector pensions for NHS workers.
The union's health sector committee called on ministers to enter "genuine and meaningful" negotiations on the future of pensions.
The union, which has 100,000 members in the NHS, will meet again on 11 January to decide what action to take next.
The government updated an offer for NHS workers in December, but stressed that it was its final offer.
A number of unions are meeting in the coming days to consider the proposed deal.
Unite's health sector national industrial committee unanimously rejected the offer.
It said that its concerns included the prospect of nurses and paramedics doing heavy lifting into their late 60s, as well as career average pensions affecting staff who took career breaks to raise children.
"Our NHS executive unanimously rejects the government's pernicious attempts to make hard working and dedicated NHS staff pay more, work longer and get less when they retire," said Unite general secretary Len McCluskey.
"Unite believes it is important to continue a campaign to maintain a fair and equitable system of public sector pensions and calls on ministers to enter into real, genuine and meaningful negotiations on the future of NHS pensions and public sector pensions."
The move follows a decision by the British Medical Association (BMA) to survey around 130,000 doctors and medical students on the government's final offer.
The BMA said it would seek the views of its members on whether the proposed deal was acceptable, and if not, what action they would be prepared to take. The BMA said a formal ballot on industrial action - its first for more than 30 years - could follow.