The role of a union

by Gordon on Tuesday 20th March, 2012

The government has pushed ahead with a final plan for public sector pensions as talks with unions come to an end.  The government wants to save billions of pounds from its pension bill. The Treasury said that discussions had now come to an end and some proposed final agreements had been published.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander said: ‘This is a fair deal for public service workers and an affordable deal for the taxpayer.’  But union leaders have said that ‘serious matters’ in the pensions debate remain outstanding. Some unions will now take these proposals to their executives for discussion. (BBC, 9th March 2012)

UNISON, the UK and Europe’s largest public sector union, takes a key role in campaigning for and negotiating working conditions for its 1.3 million members and has been active in these pension discussions.  Its programme of communications to members and the general public includes rallies, press releases and TV advertising.

UNISON has said it would ballot its 450,000 members in the NHS over the final pension proposals.  Christina McAnea, the union’s head of health said: ‘The final proposals on the new NHS pension scheme released today have changed significantly from where the negotiations first started.  It is critical that our members have the final say on these proposals and we will meet with our key health activists before moving to a ballot.’

However, some unions have responded differently.  The NUT has not signed up to these proposals and neither have the majority of the other teacher unions.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: ‘We are still willing to negotiate an agreement but we cannot accept our members being asked to pay so much more and work so much longer for their pensions and receive so much less in retirement.’

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