At the moment, the UNISON Labour Link is planning to allocate resources from the affiliated political fund to the most marginal Labour constituencies, regardless of the politics or voting record of the MPs in each constituency (as agreed with other trade unions in the Trade Union Labour Organisation).
This amounts to giving a blank cheque to New Labour to cut back on the pension cheques our members can look forward to in retirement!
Members who pay in to the Affiliated Political Fund (UNISON Labour Link) may want to ask their Branch Secretary or Branch Labour Link Officer to call a meeting to discuss what proposals to put to the Regional Labour Link Forum or Committee.
All members who pay into the Affiliated Political Fund are eligible to attend meetings at branch level to discuss this, but UNISON rules says that only paid-up Labour Party members are allowed to attend Regional or National Labour Link meetings.
This is the motion which Lambeth branch is considering:
EMERGENCY MOTION FOR REGIONAL LABOUR LINK FORUM: PENSIONS AND THE GENERAL ELECTION
This Regional Labour Link Forum notes that:
1) On 12 January 2005, the TUC called for a Day of Action in defence of public service pensions for 18 February 2005;
2) The Local Government Pension Scheme (Amendment)(No. 2) Regulations 2004 were laid before Parliament on 22 December 2004 and come into force on 1 April 2005, increasing the age at which employees can retire with an unreduced pension from 60 to 65;
3) Proposals for amendments to the National Health Service pension scheme were published in a consultation document on 10 January 2005. These would also increase the retirement age to 65;
4) UNISON is working with sympathetic Members of Parliament to put down an Early Day Motion in opposition to the LGPS (Amendment)(No. 2) Regulations 2004.
This Regional Labour Link Forum believes that the defence of the pension rights of our members is a major priority for UNISON. UNISON supports a positive agenda which would offer people choice through a flexible retirement age. The Government’s proposals are contrary to UNISON policy. The UNISON Labour Link must campaign for UNISON policy within the Labour Party by all means at our disposal.
We do not believe that UNISON should provide a 'blank cheque' to the New Labour Government by providing blanket support for Labour’s General Election campaign whilst the Government is attacking the pension rights of UNISON members.
We therefore resolve that within our Region;
A. we will only provide additional financial or material support (beyond our affiliation fees) to assist Labour’s campaign in constituencies where the Member of Parliament or Parliamentary Candidate has expressed public support for our campaign in defence of public service pensions, in the case of MPs by supporting the Early Day Motion opposing the LGPS (Amendment)(No. 2) Regulations 2004;
B. We will work with sympathetic Labour MPs and candidates before and during the General Election campaign to promote UNISON’s pensions policy.
We authorise the Regional Labour Link Committee to reconsider this policy position in the event that the Government withdraws its policy of increasing retirement ages and reducing pension benefits for our members.