A union representing more than 100,000 NHS workers has rejected the government’s offer on pensions, opening up the possibility for more industrial action.
Following a meeting earlier today Unite’s NHS executive voted unanimously to reject the government’s offer which they claim would see an increase in contributions from 6.5 per cent to 9.3 per cent by 2014-15 for a large proportion of staff.
The deal, described by the government as their “final offer”, would also see staff move from a scheme where the amount paid out is determined by final salary to one determined by career average earnings.
Unite is particularly concerned at plans to bring the retirement age for NHS staff in line with the state pensions age, which will eventually see staff working until they are 68.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Our NHS executive unanimously reject the government’s pernicious attempts to make hard working and dedicated NHS staff pay more, work longer and get less when they retire.
“Unite believes it is important to continue a campaign to maintain a fair and equitable system of public sector pensions and calls on ministers to enter into real, genuine and meaningful negotiations on the future of NHS pensions and public sector pensions.”
Unite are the first of the 15 unions involved in the negotiations to meet to discuss the deal put forwards by the government in the week before Christmas. All unions except Unite agreed it was the best deal that could be agreed through negotiation.
Unison and the Royal College of Nursing are due to meet separately next week while the British Medical Association announced today it would be writing to all 130,000 of its members to ask for their views on the deal before deciding whether to agree it.
The Unite NHS executive is due to meet again on 11 January to formulate future strategy.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The decision by Unite and its members is disappointing. The proposed new NHS Pension Scheme is a good deal - it is fair to the NHS workforce, it is fair to the taxpayer and makes public service pensions affordable and sustainable.
“The government has made clear this is our final position on the main elements of scheme design, which all the health unions, except Unite, agreed in December to take to their members. Unite represents approximately 7% of the NHS workforce - it is important to remember that it is the decision of the unions representing the majority of staff which will determine the final NHS pension deal. Further discussions are being held to work on the remaining details.”