UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Hutton review - where does Labour stand?

Press speculation is reaching fever pitch about the likely recommendations of Lord Hutton when his Independent Public Service Pensions Commission reports on Thursday.

The GMB is typically quick off the mark in its conclusions on the leaks in the weekend press, albeit conveniently forgetting its own support for a career average scheme in its submission to the review: http://www.gmb.org.uk/newsroom/latest_news/gmb_on_hutton1.aspx

Less clear is where the Labour opposition stands on the review? In 2005 when agreement was reached between the then Labour Government and the public sector unions on the future of public sector pension schemes, the lead Minister Trade and Industry Alan Johnson MP heralded thedeal as a 'breakthrough': http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4353444.stm

Much of the race to the bottom on pensions took place under Labour in Government. In 1997 when Labour came to power 5 million workers enjoyed defined benefit pensions - which paid them a percentage of final salaries - and Britain had the most robust system of private retirement provision in the world. Today that number is fewer than 1.6 million.

Maverick former Minister Frank Field MP famously told the Radio 4 Today programme in September 2004 that 'when Labour came to office we had one of the strongest pension provisions in Europe and now probably we have some of the weakest.'

Will Labour now honour the 2005 agreement and oppose it being jettisoned by Hutton? It certainly has a responsibility to do so.