DWP'S Upholding Pension Protections For Some Privatised Workers Is Welcome But All Such Protections Should Be Upheld Says GMB
Many workers with similar protections will not benefit from this announcement as their legal protections can still be overridden under Pension Bill 2013 says GMB
GMB, the union for workers in the energy sector, responded to the Government announcement on upholding the legal safeguards for the pensions of about 60,000 employees working in rail, coal, electricity and nuclear industries at the time of privatisation.
The issue arises because the government's state pension reforms will mean that from 2016, employees and employers in contracted out, defined benefit schemes will see an increase in National Insurance payments.
It is government's expectation that employers will seek to amend occupational pension terms to offset against these higher National Insurance costs. The Pensions Bill 2013 included powers for employers to enforce such changes, without regard to any pre-existing protections or agreements.
Protection of pension terms typically takes one of three forms: 1) statutory protection for employees working in rail, coal, electricity and nuclear industries at the time of privatisation; 2) protections written into the terms of their pension schemes for other workers in privatised industries (e.g. Gas) and 3) veto powers for trustees of pension schemes.
Under the announcement only the first form of protection would remain. The Pensions Bill 2013 will be changed to give legal form to this. The other two forms can still be overridden.
Phil McEvoy, GMB Pensions Officer, said "This is great news for some workers who were given legal guarantees when their organisations were privatised that pension promises would be upheld.
There are however many other members who have similar protections (for example protections that are written in pension scheme rules rather than in law) who will not benefit from this outcome as their protections can still be overridden under Government's plans.
So we have DWP agreeing that protection should remain for some groups but not all. This is not good enough. GMB hope that they will agree that all protections, wherever they exist, should be retained, and that negotiated settlements be reached.
GMB has consistently argued that these groups should also not see any loss in protection. GMB has made clear to DWP that it should be for members and their employers to negotiate around any changes arising from the Government's state pension reforms.
Where cost pressures have arisen before, GMB has successfully negotiated detrimental pension changes with employers where all of these protections have existed, and can see no reason why negotiated settlements in all instances should not be able to prevail in future.”
Contact Gary Smith 07710618909 or Phil McEvoy 079187 68773