The UNISON ballot over the government’s final NHS pension proposal  started on 11th April.  Please use your vote to help decide the future of all NHS workers’ pensions.  The ballot closes on 27th April.

Oxfordshire unison Health branch has previously met and discussed the changes to the scheme that will see many NHS staff forced to pay more, work longer and get a smaller pension.

We are very concerned that this is an inadequate settlement and that by agreeing it we would undermine the public sector unity essential to defend our pensions, jobs and pay.

The Branch Committee feels that we have no choice but recommend strongly a vote  to reject and continued industrial action with our fellow trade unionists in health and the public services generally.

We will be holding meetings to discuss this position and provide members further opportunity to discuss the implications of the proposed new NHS pension scheme that will replace the current ones plus the new contribution rates that come into effect in the next pay for staff  earning over £26,558, and next year for everyone earning over £15,000.  Contribution rates are set to increase over the coming years.

The November 30th national public sector strike saw hundreds of new activists came forward to run picket lines at over 30 workplaces, including all major hospitals, council workplaces, benefits offices, and colleges across Oxfordshire.

Many UNISON members in the NHS will be wondering where we are in the campaign to defend our pensions.  Many of us went on strike at the end of November and then heard at the end of December that UNISON negotiators had signed an agreement that put further action on hold pending further negotiations.  Some unions who joined the national strike on Nov 30 did not sign the agreement.  These unions are now preparing to strike again on March 28th on the grounds that the main factors leading to the strike on Nov 30 remain unchanged.

Oxfordshire UNISON Health branch members have debated the issue on two occasions.  In January an emergency branch meeting agreed that the government still intended to force the majority of public sector workers to pay more contributions, work longer, and get less pension, and that these major issues had led to the strike and remained unchanged.  The meeting unanimously isntructed the South East regional delegate to the Health Service group to communicate the branch's disatisfaction with the lack of progress and to signal that we wanted the UNISON Health Service group executive to support further joint union action in defence of public sector pensions.

The Branch Annual General Meeting endorsed this position.  However this position was not accepted by the Health Service group Executive who voted instead to ballot UNISON members in the NHS to ask them if they wish to continue with the campaign to defend our pensions.  This ballot will probably take  place in March.

All indications from branch meetings is to maintain the course of action started on Nov 30.  The latest minor concessions from the government and the areas still open to negotiation can be seen on the branch website.  A form has been set up for branch members to leave comments about further strike action.  Branch members are invited to leave comments on the the form on the website to let us know what they think.

The government has made some concessions on their original plan for our pensions.  When discussed in the branch they were regarded as divisive, encoluraging older workers to vote for a worse deal for younger workers.

The basics we voted to strike over have not changed for the majority - we will still be expected to pay more - work longer and get less.

Public sector workers are still expected to make huge sacrifices to bail out the banking system.  At the same time bankers continue to reap billions of pounds in bonuses. Please use the linlk on the front page to leave your comments about whether we should continue the action.

Below is the detail to the latest agreement:

 

Members of unison, the uk’s largest union, have today voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action to protect their pensions.

The union balloted members including nurses, teaching assistants, social workers, care assistants, paramedics, police staff, school dinner ladies, probation workers and cleaners.

Overall: Yes: 245,358

No: 70,253