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Unison members split on NHS pensions

A ballot of Unison members on the government’s NHS pension reform plan has failed to deliver a clear verdict, the union has announced.

Members were almost evenly split with 50.4 per cent voting to reject the pensions deal and 49.5 per cent voting to accept the offer.

The turnout was low with just 14.8 per cent of the eligible 373,000 members voting.

The result fails to deliver the “clear rejection” the union had said it would need to take sustained industrial action.

Unison’s head of health Christina McAnea, who had urged members to deliver a clear verdict during the union’s health conference in Brighton last week, said the result was disappointing.

She said: “The low turnout coupled with the close vote shows there is no mandate to endorse the pensions’ proposals, but equally no mandate to take further industrial action.

“We need to consider the next steps in the pensions campaign and we will be talking to the other health unions.”

She said the turnout was “disappointing” but “reflects the low morale and current difficult state of the NHS”. She said members’ morale was low due to the pay freeze, job cuts, poorer terms and conditions and the Health Act.

The Unite union has announced industrial action on 10 May after its members voted by 94 to six per cent to reject the government’s offer. The union’s turnout was 24.6 per cent.

The Royal College of Nursing achieved a turnout of 16.9 per cent in February, with 62 per cent voting to reject the deal and 37 per cent voted to accept it.

The British Medical Association is due to ballot its members later this month on whether they want to take industrial action for the first time since 1975.

Readers' comments (8)

  • Apathy still rules with the membership at large. Surely they realise the impact this will have on their future.As a retired member I worry about the low response, the leadership have certainly done their bit where are the rank & file members?

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  • This result arises from a lack of leadership. No recommendation from the Executive to either accept or reject left members confused. In dodging its responsibilities the leadership has now been delivered a huge headache by its members who have knocked the ball straight back into the Executive's court. It's a repeat of the RCN result. They are now damned whichever way they go. The Executive is elected to lead. If this was the best deal that could be negotiated and it was clear (wasn't it?) that members had no appetite for industrial action, then there should have been an honest recommendation to accept the realities of what had been acheived.

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  • George Webb - I didn't vote because I was on holiday over Easter far, far away and didn't answer emails. There was half term with children to look after too. Its been a crappy year and I was glad I wasn't being reminded of it for a while. Considering the government's lack of respect for the health professionals' view of the changes to the NHS and riding rough-shod over us, I feel completely demoralised, frustrated and fed up. I would have supported strike action, but now I don't believe anything we do will stop the rot of this foul government on its public services and how it treats those of us working in it. So I am resorting to curses and voodoo dolls where democracy has failed.

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  • I am in a different part of the Union and our ballot is still open. However, as I sit looking at the ballot paper my dilema is not whether to vote yes or no, but whether to bother at all ..... I just cannot see it making any difference and this really is the first time I have felt this way. I also have some sympathy with Anon 12.17 when this statement is on the ballot paper:
    "MiP’s national committee is asking for a clear steer from you ...." - sorry just don't feel I can give you one!

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  • I've voted against industrial action. It won't achieve anything except stregthen the government's position. Plus, at the end of the day we do get a very good pensions deal. ven the new proposals are streets ahead of what lots of friends and colleagues are getting.

    the information we're getting from Uniosn on the proposed changes is poor, Similarly, we can't be selfish about this - we have to see our case in a national economic context. Yes, the coalition are economically inept, but we can't duck the nastional financial position.

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  • I'm with 12:17pm on this one.
    I wanted to cast my vote but there was no steer from the Exec. Even using search engines found no greater detail on the proposals.
    In that position I left it to other members to decide on my behalf - sad but true.

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  • In a democratic union the Executive should represent the majority opinion of the membership. If however the majority of the memembership cannot be bothered to think, arrive at and communicate their wishes when requested what do they expect. This is your future and worth some effort on your part!

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  • I agree with George
    I've voted because it's my future that's being talked about, and I'm not just leaving it to other members.

    If you want to find out more, Managers in Partnership have pretty good info on their webpage.

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