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Unions vote to accept public sector pension changes

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by Jan Harris
Unions vote to accept public sector pension changes

Unions have agreed to proposed changes to the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), ending a long-running dispute with the government over the reforms.

Members of Unison and Unite, two of the UK’s largest unions, voted in support of the reforms, with 84 per cent of Unite members voting to accept the changes and 90 per cent of Unison members.

Both Unison and Unite had recommended acceptance of the proposals to their members.

Discussions are still ongoing with other public sector employees, including teachers and civil servants.

The reforms will see government workers’ retirement age linked to the state pension age which currently stands at 68 and is likely to rise.

Most workers’ pension contributions will not rise under the agreement.

Unison’s head of local government, Heather Wakefield, 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 via a low cost 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.

“Contributions are now on a fairer ‘progressive’ basis. We will continue to campaign with all of the union, through the TUC, against the proposals to increase the state retirement age.”

Meanwhile, Age UK has welcomed the government’s plans to introduce a simpler and fairer flat-rate state pension and is calling for current pensioners to be included in any reforms.

In a survey of 1,000 people by Age UK and the Future Foundation, 94 per cent were concerned that their state pension would not be enough to live on when they retire.

A lack of information about pensions was also a concern, with 70 per cent saying that more information was needed.

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News posted: August 24, 2012

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