Local government unions have vowed to continue building for strike action on 30 November despite new proposals from the Local Government Association intended to soften the blow of Tory pensions reforms.
The plan, which the LGA has presented to the Department for Communities and Local Government, would freeze the proposed increase in employee contributions for two years and provide greater protection for the lower-paid. The scheme also includes an option for workers unable or unwilling to increase their contribution to take a cut in their pension benefits instead.
In the LGA’s letter to Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, they explicitly cite “reducing the risk of industrial action” as a reason for formulating their proposals.
Unions have criticised the proposals as “a short-term fix” that tinkers within the framework of the “savings” (read: cuts) from the Local Government Pensions Scheme demanded by the coalition.
An open conflict with the Tory-led LGA could weaken the Coalition, and the move shows that even the threat of industrial action can frighten local government bosses into acting.
Now unions need their own plan for fair pensions for all which rejects the starting premise — the “need” for “savings” that must come from increases in retirement age and employee contributions — that both the government and the LGA share.