Unite rejects local government pension reforms

Trade union Unite has rejected Government proposals to reform the Local Government Pension Scheme.

The decision follows a letter from Communities Secretary Eric Pickles in December claiming agreement had been reached with unions over proposals to link the local government retirement age to the state pension age, introduce a career average defined-benefit scheme and set an employer cost ceiling of 10.9 per cent.

However, union officials say Pickles’ letter caused a “crisis of confidence and trust” because discussions over all three reforms were still due to take place.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey says: “Unite’s local authority representatives have lost trust after Eric Pickles let the government’s real agenda out of the bag.

“The security of our members in retirement is just too important to leave any space for doubt or mistrust, so the union’s senior representatives in local government have rejected the government’s proposals.

“Our senior representatives believe they have no choice but to reject the ’principles document’ after Eric Pickles claimed the unions had made commitments which have not been fully discussed. There now needs to be genuine discussions without arbitrary deadlines. Our members need clarity before we can move forward.”

Minister for Local Government Bob Neill says: “Our proposals represent a good deal for public sector workers and taxpayers. We need to put local government pensions on a sustainable and fair footing, and this is a generous offer.

“Town hall pensions now cost taxpayers £300 per household per year, and the cost has trebled since 1997.

“This is not fair on families and pensioners struggling to pay their council tax bills, and that is why this Government offered flexibility to Council employers to negotiate fair reforms.”

Last week, teachers’ unions the NUT and the NASUWT said they were seeking “urgent meetings” with Government ministers over proposed reforms to the teachers’ pension scheme.