Of the 11 trade unions with members in the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), just three sent their senior officials into the talks with the three political leaders on the Local Government Association, from which emerged the agreed principles which UNISON Service Group Executives (SGEs) will be asked to endorse tomorrow. Now, the senior lay Committee of one of those three unions, UNITE, has voted not to accept the principles agreement as a satisfactory basis for further progress (www.unitetheunion.org/news__events/latest_news/unite_rejects_local_government.aspx).
Although UNITEs total membership in the LGPS is small in comparison to UNISON its Local Authority National Industrial Sector Committee (LANISC) is a serious body of informed and experienced union activists, who have now made a reasoned judgement that the principles, which entail surrender on the question of pension age and abandonment of our opposition to changes in indexation as a bargaining objective, are inadequate and insufficient.
With UNITE saying that there now needs to be genuine discussions without arbitary deadlines will UNISON bend the knee to the Government and accept the principles and the tight timetable for further negotiations on the basis of those principles?
Regular readers of this blog (Sid and Doris Blogger) will know that I think the answer ought to be no for all the reasons I set out elsewhere (www.socialistunity.com/what-next-for-local-government-pension-scheme/). I do not believe that the gain we have won in the LGPS (delaying any change from 2012 to 2014) would be put at risk if we try to secure the further improvements which UNITE now seek - and that, as I argued today in the Morning Star (www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/113879) - we will do better if we sustain the unity of our movement which was the most impressive feature of 30 November.
There is an increasingly strong case that UNISON, instead of leading local government workers away from the unified fight to defend pensions, would do better to stand firm and resume the resolute and effective leadership of that fight which we showed in the three months following our General Secretarys speech to the TUC.
(And as for the position in respect of the health service scheme, I can think of no better riposte to the public comments of our lead negotiator than that offered by Mark Campbell of UCU at Saturdays meeting!)
(If you may be offended by rude words look away now)
Damage Limitation? My Arse!