Unions back changes to local government pensions

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Members of Unison and Unite who work in local government have voted to accept changes to their pension schemes, following negotiations between the unions and the employers involved.

In ballots carried out on the latest proposals for the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), 90% of Unison and 84% of Unite members voted in favour of the plans.

In November last year, local government workers took part in a “day of action” to protest changes to the LGPS, despite the Government setting out what it called “a more generous” offer earlier in the month.

However, following negotiations, members of both unions have accepted the most recent offer, which Unison said will maintain current contribution levels for the majority of LGPS members, introduce a 50/50 “low cost” scheme for lower earners and move from a final-salary scheme to a career-average one.

Heather Wakefield, head of local government at Unison, said: “These were tough negotiations, but with a focus on the majority of members who earn less than £21,000 a year, we have ensured that current LGPS members can afford to remain in the scheme and those who could not afford to do so to date can now join the 50/50 option.

“This is vital for many of our members who have suffered a decline in earnings as a result of the coalition’s pay freeze policies.”

Unite national officer Peter Allenson added that this was a “positive step forward” that came about as a result of the day of strike action and “genuine negotiations” with local government employers.

“Our members took strike action and, as a result, they got a better deal. However, the strike action was followed by constructive negotiations which we are pleased ended in an agreement acceptable to our members.”

Last week, members of the GMB union also voted in favour of the offer. However, members of the Fire Brigades Union have voted against the deal.

The negotiated changes will also have to be approved by the communities and local government minister, Eric Pickles, before they go ahead.

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