This pension deal should shock no one
Monday 24th December 2012, 2:30PM GMT.
LIFE, as one union leader warned last week, is about to get difficult.
It was never going to be easy getting 14 employee groups to agree changes to the public sector pension scheme. Differing agendas, aspirations and attitudes all come into play as representatives respond to pressure from their members.
It was nevertheless disappointing to hear inflammatory language and threats from one union within a few days of plans to move 4,700 public workers to a Care scheme being unveiled.
After a year of intense negotiations between employees and employer the suggestion from the Unite union that the proposals were an astonishing bolt from the blue seems disingenuous at best.
It was no secret that the working party had been formed with the express purpose of looking for a compromise deal. Given that it was dealing with the thorniest issue on the pay and conditions agenda for public workers it would be surprising if any union leader did not pay close attention to how it was going.
By all accounts, the negotiations were a bruising affair, with the two sides kept at the table by a well-respected arbiter, whose task it was to stay impartial and keep the process moving.
Little surprise then that, having guided the ships through months of storms, he was more than a little peeved when, within a few days of revealing the main parts of the deal, one of the major unions rejected it out of hand.
The question to be asked is whether Unite entered into the negotiating process in good faith or was it just a delaying tactic with only the status quo acceptable?
If so, union members should ask whether such intransigence is in their long-term interests. As time goes on, islanders will become less, not more, accepting of a gold-plated scheme soaking up millions of pounds. Public sector workers cannot hope to be immune to the difficulties faced by the island as a whole.
This may then be the best deal that could be hoped for. Rejecting it before the details are even known will lose public sympathy and risks damaging the island at a time when the pain must be shared.
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