Heads of Agreement – final proposals from Government on structure of 2015 scheme
The pensions Heads of Agreement ‘offer’ from the Government was debated at the union’s health executive meeting last week. It was agreed that the proposals will be put to members in a full ballot following the completion of negotiations on the ‘outstanding issues’ .
Key reasons given for the decision included:
· The package – while not fully what we wanted to achieve – did contain significant changes. For example, the improved position on the 10-13.5 yrs protection from change and the exemption of low-earners from 2012 contribution rate increases could shield significant numbers of members from detriment and the concessions on Fair Deal may give pensions security to those members at risk of future outsourcing/ transfer
· Further negotiations are needed on the ‘outstanding issues’ identified in the Heads of Agreement document – until these talks conclude, it will be difficult to assist members to calculate the financial impact of the changed offer
· The ‘tripartite review’ on the impact of retirement age (Annex B clause iv) will provide an opportunity for us to make detailed and effective arguments against increasing the retirement age for ambulance staff
· We will need to be extremely clear with members about the proposed structure of the 2015 scheme, in particular to identify on what elements we had not been able to get the Government to move
· Members need to be aware that improving the proposals would involve taking sustained industrial action and would contain a risk that the Government could impose worse terms in the event of rejection
· Our strike ballot is still ‘live’ and the union could take action if the further talks break down or if members vote to reject the offer in a ballot
The ballot of NHS members will take place following the conclusion of negotiations on the ‘outstanding issues’ – it is anticipated these will take place over the next few weeks.
What you can do:
Make sure your membership details are up to date – check on the UNISON website to see if we have your current home address.
You can check and update your details online by clicking on this link: Update your details
Keep in touch with your branch – we will send information about the ballot in our regular health circulars
Ambulance ASOS ballot:
As you know, UNISON has run a recent ballot of ambulance members to seek a mandate for Action Short of Strike (ASOS) in the event of future action on pensions across the union. The ballot outcome was an overwhelming 84% YES vote. This means that in the event of further industrial action on pensions, ambulance branches will be covered by mandates for both ‘strike’ and ‘action short of strike’. Your branch will keep you posted about progress so make sure they have your up to date contact details including your text number and email address.