Unison considers scrapping its final salary pension scheme

A union which has campaigned fiercely against government cutbacks to public sector pensions has been forced to consider changing its own scheme for staff, the Times has reported.

Public sector union Unison, which represents 1.3 million workers in the NHS and local government, has a pension deficit of £120m, almost double the £58m recorded in December last year.

Senior officials are said to be discussing scrapping the union’s final salary pension scheme, and replacing it with a career-average scheme.

The Civil Service has already introduced a career-average scheme for fresh recruits, and local authorities are considering the proposal.

But the recommendations, to be put to all 1,400 pension scheme members in a ballot this autumn, have outraged some officials at the union.

One told the Times: “Only a year ago the union launched a massive campaign and staged two days’ strike action to protect local government pensions. Now they are preparing to sacrifice their own staff benefits.”

Unison is also considering raising the retirement age from 60 to 65.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said he could not ignore the rising defecit. “It is just not possible to ignore the current deficit and just hope it will go away. It won’t, and if ignored, it is likely to get worse,” he said.

He added that the union was in discussion with staff about a recovery plan, and conceded that the scheme had to be overhauled, but any options that might be considered were confidential at this stage.

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