Health workers reject final Government pension offer

 

Leaders of 100,000 health service workers today rejected the Government's final offer on pensions, dealing a blow to hopes that the bitter dispute could soon be resolved.

Unite said its health sector national committee unanimously rejected the proposed deal as a basis for a satisfactory outcome to the long-running row.

General secretary Len McCluskey said the committee had turned down the Government's "pernicious attempts" to make hard-working NHS staff pay more, work longer and get less when they retire.

The move followed a decision by the British Medical Association (BMA) to survey around 130,000 doctors and medical students on the Government's final offer, raising the prospect of their first industrial action ballot for over 30 years.

The BMA said it will seek the views of its members on whether the proposed deal is acceptable, and if not, what action they would be prepared to take. The BMA said a formal ballot on industrial action could follow.

Meanwhile, leaders of the NASUWT teachers' union will meet tomorrow to consider the pension proposals amid speculation that they will also reject them.

Up to two million public sector workers went on strike on November 30 in the biggest outbreak of industrial unrest since the 1979 Winter of Discontent.

The Government later made a final offer after a series of intensive talks with unions, leading ministers to say they hoped the dispute could finally be resolved.

The Public and Commercial Services union immediately rejected the proposed deal, and a number of unions said they would take the offer back to their executives before deciding whether to accept.

Mr McCluskey said: "The Government's attacks on public sector pensions are politically-motivated, as part of an overall design to privatise the NHS, cut public services, break up the national pay agreements, and disrupt legitimate trade union activities and organisation.

"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 said a high proportion of NHS staff will see their pension contributions jump from the current 6.5% to 9.3% by 2014/15, and other staff will see their contributions increase by nearly 50%, with some paying 14.5% of their salary into their pensions.

The union said it also had concerns about the linking of the NHS retirement age to the ever-increasing age that people will receive their state pensions, warning that paramedics and nurses could be doing heavy lifting work into their late 60s.

Officials added that the proposed accrual rate for NHS staff was worse than the planned rates for other public sector schemes, saying that because this will be based on career average earnings, it will hit women who took career breaks to raise their children hardest.

The BMA, which last took industrial action in the mid-1970s over junior doctors' working conditions, did not take part in last year's strike.

The association said today that even though improvements had been made to the original offer, doctors would still be "hit hard", with those at the start of their careers facing the prospect of paying more than £200,000 in additional lifetime contributions.

Many doctors would have to work until they were 68 before being able to draw a full pension, while the amount deducted from their pay will go up from April, with further rises in 2013 and 2014.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA Council, said: "We want doctors and medical students to be fully aware of what's coming their way, and to have their say on what happens.

"Everyone will be affected, and it's up to the whole medical profession to influence what we do next. Either way, the implications are huge. We face either major, damaging changes to our pensions, or the first ballot of doctors on industrial action since the 70s.

"The BMA, along with the other unions, has not accepted the offer. That, quite rightly, is for our members to help decide. Throughout intensive negotiations, we repeatedly pointed out that the NHS pension was radically overhauled only three years ago, and is actually delivering a positive cashflow to the Treasury."

A Health Department spokesman said: "The BMA are co-signatories to the NHS Pension Scheme Heads of Agreement. The health trade unions including the BMA agreed to take the main elements of the scheme design to their members as the best that can be achieved.

"The unions have committed to suspend any industrial action while final details are resolved and members are consulted.

"We hope that BMA and its members will recognise that the Government has made an offer which is fair and sustainable in what is a very difficult economic climate and support the agreement reached. Further discussions are being held to work on the remaining details."

The NASUWT stressed ahead of its meeting tomorrow that its negotiators did not sign up to the Heads of Agreement proposals put forward by the education department last month.

"The national executive will be reviewing the discussions which took place and considering the next steps," said the union.

PA

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried