You cannot strike a deal with 4,700
Monday 28th January 2013, 3:00PM GMT.
JUST how do you get 4,700 people to agree on an issue as complicated as pensions?
Each public sector worker has his or her own circumstances. Some earn under £20,000 and a few as much as £140,000. Some have worked for decades for the States while others for just a few years. Some are struggling to keep their family afloat, others are comfortable with their lot.
The public sector is a broad church of civil servants, nurses, prison officers etc and any sermon-preaching change is as likely to lose some as gain support from others.
All of this was known when union representatives agreed to sit down with employers and review the pension scheme a year ago. At the time, an air of reason far removed from the hysteria of recent weeks prevailed.
The chairman of the Association of States Employees Organisations said staff recognised a review was needed. ‘Having a scheme that isn’t sustainable is no benefit to anyone.’
This, after all, was a pension pot stuffed with £103m. of taxpayers’ cash over the last five years alone.
A year later, the six negotiators emerged from a bruising tussle with the best deal they could get. Both sides had compromised.
Now, however, for the tricky part. The fragmented nature of the public sector means there are 14 individual employee groups to agree to the proposals.
Sadly, many have reacted as if the whole process was news to them. They demand fuller consultation but give no clue how that would work. Clearly, you cannot gather 4,700 people in one room and ask them how much more they would be prepared to contribute.
So what are the options? Sit down with 14 union leaders and 14 from the States. Start individual negotiations with each faction?
Is either really likely to come up with a better solution?
And even if by some miracle a solution emerged they would still have to consult their members. And we’d be back where we are now.
No, this is the deal and it is a good one. If it is turned down ‘life gets difficult’, as the lead union official has already acknowledged.
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