Public sector vote to accept pension reforms


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The Independent Online

Local authority workers and other public sector staff in two of the country's biggest unions have voted massively to accept changes to their pensions.

Members of Unison and Unite backed the reforms by around 9-1, ending their long-running row over the Government's controversial reforms.

Other public sector employees remain in dispute, including teachers and civil servants, and there could be further industrial action later in the year following last November's massive one-day strike.

Unison said its members in England and Wales voted by 90.2 per cent in favour of accepting the proposed changes to the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), which covers workers in councils, police and probation, schools, colleges, universities, water, transport and environmental services, private companies and the voluntary sector.

The union'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."

Unite said 84 per cent of its members who voted in a ballot accepted the proposals.

National officer Peter Allenson said: "This is a positive step forward following the November strike and some genuine negotiations with local government employers which have also been signed off by the Government.

"Our members took strike action and as a result they got a better deal. However, the strike action was followed by constructive negotiations which we are pleased ended in an agreement which was acceptable to our members."

Members of the GMB union working in local government have already accepted the new scheme.