Amicus opposed government proposals to unilaterally raise the normal pension age (npa) for NHS scheme members. Our campaign slogan was “60 not 65”. At a meeting of the Public Services Forum 17 October 2005, Alan Johnson on behalf of government conceded that our main complaint had convinced government to change tack.
Before, during and after the May general election Amicus members across the UK hammered home the message that increasing the npa was a betrayal. Our members were clear, an important term of employment they signed up to was the pension package with an npa of 60. The NHS consultation showed that protection was the top priority for existing scheme members across all unions.
Amicus consistently argued the case for full protection for existing scheme members on the basis that to increase the normal pension age and, or, less favorable benefits would be a breach of their agreed terms of employment. We also sought assurances that a new scheme would be sufficiently attractive to act as a recruitment incentive.
What have we achieved? Talks with government has established a new framework of principles that will guide scheme specific negotiations covering NHS, teachers and civil servants - that’s three million public sector workers.
The following agreed précis of principles are central to the framework:
- Existing scheme members have the right to suffer no detriment to their normal pension age (55 or 60) and will retain their existing pension provision.
- New schemes for new entrants will be negotiated on the basis of transparency with full disclosure.
- New schemes should continue to guarantee defined benefit provision, linked to an individual's earning and also offer indexation to protect retired members against rises in the cost of living.
- The Normal Pension Age for new entrants will be 65 but with the option of the right to retire at age 60 by means of increased contributions.
- It is up to sector specific talks to agree whether to retain final salary schemes or change to career averaging.
- Government will make available approximately 1% of payroll to improve benefits in the new schemes or to deal with transition arrangements/protection for existing scheme members.
- To safeguard the principles of this framework are properly applied there will be a PSF operational review of progress early in the New Year.
This is the best outcome union negotiators could have hoped for. No change for existing scheme members, unless agreed by their unions and always on the principle of no detriment. This coupled with investment in a new scheme for new starters and the flexibility for a lower pension age by increased contributions is a tremendous achievement.
There is now a job of work to be done in negotiating the new scheme for new entrants and Amicus will keep our workplace representatives and members informed of significant developments.
Attached are the full PSF framework principles on pensions for teachers, the NHS and the Civil Service.
If you have any question arising from this edition of Reps Direct please contact your Regional Officer.