23 March 2011
NIPSA members employed across the public sector as well as in the community and voluntary sector are facing a major assault on their jobs, pay, pensions and other terms and conditions of employment. This assault is the direct result of the UK Coalition Governments austerity plans announced in 2010 and which are scheduled to take place every year for the next four years. The cuts to public sector budgets arising from these plans begin to take effect from April this year. It must be remembered that these cuts come immediately after years of so called efficiency savings and cuts introduced by the previous government.
The Northern Ireland Executive has agreed a budget for Northern Ireland based on the UK block grant allocation which will, in real terms, remove between £4bn and £5bn from Northern Ireland over the four year period.
The budget announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne on 23 March confirms that the Government does not intend to change course.
However across the UK opposition in building against this unprecedented attack on public services and the welfare state.
If members take a stand against the cuts in Northern Ireland we can make a difference. The attacks on jobs and services will be felt by NIPSA members across the public sector. However it is clear that some sectors will be placed under much greater pressure sooner than others but there can be no doubt that all sectors will experience significant job losses. The policies of this government remain a major threat to all members.
It is essential that NIPSA branches continue to build members opposition to these cuts, involving where appropriate local communities in campaigns to protect public services.
The General Council wishes to remind all branches that it is NIPSA policy to support industrial action, including strike action, whenever branches, panels or Departmental Committees consider that such a course of action would strengthen our ability to protect members jobs, pay and pensions as well as public services.
Public Service Pensions
Members will be acutely aware of the attacks on public service pensions. Previous bulletins have detailed these attacks but they include:-
(a) An increase in the pension age from age 65 to age 66.
(b) The introduction of a change in the mechanism for uprating public service pensions from the Retail Prices Index to the Consumer Prices Index. This will result in a cumulative reduction in the value of pensions during the period of retirement.
(c) The dismantling of all public sector final salary schemes and forcing staff into career average pension schemes for future service.
(d) An increase, by an average of 3%, in employee contributions.
The public sector trade unions across the UK are giving active consideration to a campaign of industrial action to protect public service pensions. All NIPSA branches should discuss the attacks on pensions and alert members to the possibility of them being asked to vote on industrial action.
NIPSA is currently liaising with our colleagues in the other public sector trade unions, including the teaching unions, about the coordination of industrial action in Northern Ireland in the event of UK wide action to protect pensions.
A more detailed bulletin on pensions will be issued in due course.