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Unions abandon efforts to sink NHS Pension reforms

Attempts to completely stop the government’s reform of public sector pensions have been abandoned by health service unions.

Ministers unveiled a bill in Parliament last Thursday, setting out its proposals for NHS staff to earn a career average pension, with increased contributions and a retirement age linked to the state pension age of 68.

Despite widespread strike action against the pension changes by unions on 30 November last year, and the first industrial action by doctors since 1975, Nursing Times has been told unions have ruled out further strikes.

Instead they will focus efforts on winning crucial changes to specific proposals on staff working longer and securing fairer access to the NHS Pension Scheme, for example, for private sector nurses carrying out work for health service contracts. Both areas are subject to tri-partite reviews involving unions, employers and the Department of Health.

The decision to end the dispute follows disappointing ballot turnouts at the two largest nursing unions, Unison and the Royal College of Nursing. The RCN achieved a turnout of 16% with 62% voting to reject the pensions offer, while Unison saw just 15% of members vote with the result split 50:50.

Christina McAnea, chair of the NHS Staff Side Council and head of health at Unison, confirmed to Nursing Times that none of the health unions were continuing the dispute. She said: “No union in the NHS is now taking industrial action on pensions.

“The unions have taken a decision that the dispute is over, but the fight for fairer pensions continues. We have a long running campaign to address issues such as nurses working longer and fairer access to NHS Pensions.”

Readers' comments (14)

  • tinkerbell

    Even the unions have given up on us.

    Who can blame them i guess with that display of 'solidarity' brothers and sisters.

    No need to pay my union dues anymore.

    Nursing resus status - DNR.

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  • well done rcn, at least my union unite bothered to vote

    hope you enjoy working until your 68 and paying more to get less back with this kind of apathy looks like the govt can do what it wants with nurses so get ready for

    reduced annual leave reduced sick pay reduced increments regional pay no enhancements for shift working etc etc the list is a lot longer than this!!

    and when the union send out ballots for strike action you will just not bother...you get everything you deserve

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  • well done rcn, at least my union unite bothered to vote"

    Please read the article, ALL unions balloted their members and all unions have taken the decision that the dispute is over.

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  • what do you expect unite to do, go it alone!!(they rejected it by 96% by the way
    )

    whilst the weak rcn and other unions could not be botherd to vote...16% returned thier ballot papers!!!!!!

    so when the next struggle is here..very soon...i can imagine the rcn members will do exactly the same....not bother

    then as well as working longer etc you will have your terms and conditions changed beyond belief


    the unions are only as strong as thier members

    like i said previously..you will get all you deserve

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  • everybody blaming everybody else is hardly constructive or helpful

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  • Anonymous | 19-Sep-2012 3:10 pm

    everybody blaming everybody else is hardly constructive or helpful

    Well I personally agree with all the above comments. The profession is spineless and will get walked over time and time again. The government will be rubbing their hands with glee. There will be much worse to come.

    The profession has encouraged us to study at degree level with autonomous thinking. I suggest you now use your advanced study skills and abandon this sinking ship.

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  • Anonymous | 19-Sep-2012 3:10 pm

    everybody blaming everybody else is hardly constructive or helpful

    Well I personally agree with all the above comments. The profession is spineless and will get walked over time and time again. The government will be rubbing their hands with glee. There will be much worse to come.

    The profession has encouraged us to study at degree level with autonomous thinking. I suggest you now use your advanced study skills and abandon this sinking ship.

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  • tinkerbell

    perhaps knowing what we all know now, if the vote went out again there would be a completely different outcome.

    I think it is a sadness that this can't happen because i am sure that the vote would not be ignored, the apathy would be much diluted and we would have a different outcome.

    don't know if you can take the same ballot twice or union rulings on this but think the unions should give everyone a second chance if possible.

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  • After 30 years in nursing and recently loosing a colleague who continued to work until recently died aged 67 as soon as Im financially able will be leaving the profession as Ive no intention of working like my colleague ie until I drop! and if I havent enough money then the state can look after me seeing as people who dont pay into a pension or even work seem to get every benefit under the sun, even asylum seekers get better looked after than the so called 'well thought of nursing profession'. Politicians sing our praises when they need us e.g. David Cammeron, & Gordeon Brown but have very short memories!

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  • Maybe the not the most appropriate blog to say this but....I took my NHS pension 2 years ago, aged 59, and returned 1/2 time. I have just reached state pensionable age, and my tax code has gone from 549L (this was reduced because I was informed that I owe £441 from year 2011-2012) to 2L for 2012 -2013. Yes, I am allowed a total income of £20 before tax!!

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  • michael stone

    tinkerbell | 20-Sep-2012 4:21 pm

    'don't know if you can take the same ballot twice or union rulings on this but think the unions should give everyone a second chance if possible.'

    If we use the EU as a comparator, you can probably find a way to get another vote - after all, the EU usually finds a way to keep asking for another vote, until the voters vote the desired way.

    Anonymous | 20-Sep-2012 8:17 pm

    My impression, is that quite a lot of nursing roles would be very demanding for people well into their 60s. And with a squeezed NHS budget, I'm guessing that although officially nurses will retire at 68, many will be 'forced out' many years before then ?

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  • If nurses are 'forced out' it will allow them to have potentially enhanced retirement on the grounds of ill health, and possible access to disability allowances.

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  • access to disability allowance are you having a laugh!!

    the company Atos employed by this tory spineless govt has told one person he was fit for work...he has been registered blind since birth!!!

    the tories have got to get the money to give to thier rich friends some how...take it off the poorest in society then eh!!

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  • With a £40,000 increase in tax reduction to all the wealthy in this country..... increase in overseas aide for the oncoming year. Who, is subsidising it?
    Oh yes, the lowly paid!!!
    Surprise, surprise!

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