Unison vows to fight govt over LGPS plans

Unison has said it will fight the government’s plans which would allow universities and colleges to opt new non-teaching staff out of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS).

Speaking at its national delegate conference in Liverpool on Friday (21 June), Unison national executive council member, Mike Hines, said that the move was a “purely political act” targeting members in England and that it could set a dangerous precedent.

The proposals, published by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government in May, would mean that education corporations, sixth form colleges and higher education institutions would have more “flexibility”, however, the union has said that the plans penalise the “lowest paid, mainly female, workforce”.

Hines said: “This is the thin edge of the wedge. Other employers will ask the government for similar opt-outs. This is the fight for our pension scheme as a whole.

“And we need to recognise it’s a fight for the whole union, not just one part of the union. Now is our time to make sure those that come after us are not deprived. No matter what service group you are in, this is our issue.”

The government said it was seeking to reflect a number of recent changes in the higher and further education sectors, including the shift towards a “non-public sector status” and a “responsibility” for these bodies to determine their own business models.

Higher Education Service Group Executive chair, Denise Ward, said that Stafford University have already taken six days of strike action, after finding that the issue could affect the financial liability of the scheme for future members.

Initial figures found that approximately 3 per cent of LGPS membership was at risk, which could rise to 20 per cent if later extended to all admitted and scheduled bodies.

The plans only apply to England, meaning the two-tier system would be extended to the devolved nations.

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