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Protect our Pensions LGPS Campaign – Issue 22

MAJORITY SAY VOTE “YES” TO THE LGPS!

Following the branch consultation agreed at the Local Government Conference, the five Service Group Executives within the LGPS met on 19 July to receive Regional reports from the branch consultation and make their recommendations for the forthcoming ballot. The branch consultations were overwhelmingly in favour of recommending acceptance of the LGPS 2014 proposals.

The five Service Groups – and their respective memberships – are:

Local Government     580,000
Police and Justice     40,000
Higher Education     19,000
Community     17,000
Water, Environment & Transport     6,000

All of the Service Groups except Higher Education – representing the overwhelming majority of UNISON members who are in the LGPS – or eligible to be members – voted to recommend acceptance of the current proposals. Together they speak on behalf of 643,000 UNISON members, out of a total of 662,000 covered by the LGPS. The Higher Education Service Group voted to recommend rejection of the proposals.

Unite and GMB are also recommending acceptance to their members.

The Ballot – What Happens Now?

Following the SGE meetings on 19 July, the LGPS Scrutiny Group – comprised of Chairs and Vice Chairs of the five LGPS Service Groups met to decide on the format of the ballot.

It was agreed that there will be a combined ballot – with results from the five Service Groups being counted together.

You will receive a ballot paper from 31 July in the post to your home address. Please fill it in and return it as soon as possible. The deadline is 24 August.
You will also be sent a personal code which will allow you to vote on-line if you prefer to do that instead.

If you are not going to be at home during that period, please make arrangements for your ballot paper to be sent to you.

Should I vote ‘yes’ to the proposals?

If you are in Local Government, Police, Probation, Further Education, Schools, the Community and Voluntary Sector, Water, Environment Agency or Transport or private companies, UNISON is recommending that you vote “yes” to the current proposals – in line with your Service Group’s recommendation.

Branches should promote their Service Group’s recommendation.

Branches in those Service Groups should also be campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote , in line with their Service Group’s recommendation. UNISON’s ‘Code of Good Branch Practice’ (4.4) makes this very clear. It says:

‘Once UNISON policy is determined, there is an obligation on all constituent parts of the union to work to achieve its objectives by campaigning and promoting the policy’.

The requirement on branches to promote UNISON policy is also contained in UNISON’s ‘Democracy in UNISON Guidelines’ (www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/13305.pdf).

Why should I vote ‘yes’?

The four Service Groups voting to recommend the proposals and urging you to vote “yes” are doing so for the following key reasons:

• The proposals are a major improvement on the government’s initial proposals for a 3.2% increase in contributions, a defined contribution scheme, a worse accrual rate, no protection and no right to remain in the LGPS if transferred to an external service provider

• There is no contribution increase for 90% members including all those earning £43,000 or less

• Most part-time workers will pay less because contributions will be based on actual not full-time equivalent earnings

• The “new” LGPS from 2014 will be better for most members up to 25 – 30 years of membership than the current scheme. Since the average length of membership in the scheme is seven years, most members will benefit

• The new 50/50 option will allow low paid workers to join the scheme and then progress to the full scheme, when they are able to

• All members transferred to the private and voluntary sectors under TUPE will have the right to remain in the LGPS

Vote “Yes” to Ensure the Future of the LGPS

It is important that UNISON delivers a massive “yes” vote to the proposals – along with the other unions.

If the proposals are accepted by members and employers, the government will base its formal consultation on them in September. If they are not accepted then the government may consult on alternative proposals – which would almost certainly be worse.
Please make sure that you and your members are aware of the proposals by looking at the detailed materials on the UNISON pension’s website – http://www.unison.org.uk/pensions/lgps.asp

I am in Higher Education. How should I vote?

Individual members are free to vote as they wish in the ballot, so you can vote ‘yes’ if you think the proposals are acceptable or ‘no’ if you don’t. However, if you are in the Higher Education Service Group you are being recommended to vote “no” and will receive materials to that effect with your ballot paper.

Make Sure You Vote!

But whatever you do, please vote! It is vital that as many members as possible vote in the ballot to show the government and the employers how important the LGPS is to UNISON members.

Please order and distribute the “vote yes” ballot leaflet to members and order and display the “vote yes” ballot poster. Details are as below:

Vote Yes leaflet: 3160
http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/21058.pdf

Vote Yes poster: 3161
http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/21059.pdf

Want to Know More?

The Pensions page of the UNISON website contains all the information you need to understand the proposals and explain them to members – and non-members too.

If you have a specific query, please e-mail Glyn Jenkins, Head of Pensions at g.jenkins@unison.co.uk

Recruit, Recruit, Recruit!

The LGPS proposals have been welcomed by many members and non-members alike. Many low-paid, part-time workers told UNISON in our survey that they would welcome the 50/50 option as a way into the LGPS and contributions based on actual – not full-time earnings. The 90% of LGPS members whose contributions won’t increase should also be told that UNISON led the negotiations on the proposals and that they need to join UNISON to defend their pensions, pay and conditions in the future.

Join UNISON online www.unison.org.uk/join or call 0845 355 0845

So carry on organising! Contact Indira Patel, i.patel@unison.co.uk if you would like to be a UNISON pension contact or champion.

What Next for the LGPS?

We are currently carrying on the negotiations to look at ways of improving the Governance of the scheme and how LGPS members have a real say about what happens to their pension fund. These talks are going alongside discussions on the cost control mechanism. This will ensure that funds are run as efficiently as possible, that investment strategies produce the best outcome for members and that more of you can have a say in how your fund are run.

We will keep you updated on progress.

DON’T FORGET TO VOTE IN THE BALLOT!

AND VOTE “YES” FOR THE LGPS!

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