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News round-up, February 2017

News round-up from Prospect February 2017

A snapshot of what’s been happening in and around Prospect in February 2017



NEWS

Worrying options in DB pensions green paper

A government consultation on private sector defined benefit pension schemes has failed to address an underlying problem with the method used to calculate deficits, says Prospect.

The union also raises concerns about options in the green paper that would change the indexation of some pensions currently in payment from RPI to CPI and reverse the principle of protecting accrued rights, currently enshrined in law.

Lords place too much faith in energy market

Over-reliance on the market and inconsistent regulations have led to tightened capacity margins and Britain having the highest industrial prices in the EU, Prospect said after the House of Lords released its report on reforming the energy market.

Qatar stadium contructionSafety expert visits Qatar to advise on World Cup site

Prospect’s Simon Hester visited Qatar in January to participate in a team health and safety inspection of a stadium under construction for the FIFA 2022 World Cup and a welfare inspection of migrant workers’ accommodation.

Pressure from the international Red Card for FIFA campaign for “no World Cup without workers’ rights” has led to significant developments, enabling the trip to take place. 

Keep up the pressure on Euratom’s future

Many members wrote to their MPs protesting at the government’s decision to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) as part of the Brexit bill, in response to an appeal by Prospect’s Sue Ferns

The Lords is debating amendments this week, including on Euratom. Look out for a further blog from Sue on what happened and next steps at www.prospect.org.uk/brexit

Prospect APPG to launch Brexit stories booklet

Prospect has launched a new all-party parliamentary group on the future of work. Its first action will be to launch a booklet – The Implications of Brexit for STEM: Experiences from the frontline – in the House of Commons on 7 March. Many scientist members tell their stories in the booklet, which will be available from www.prospect.org.uk/brexit

Conservative peer Lord Balfe and and Labour MP Daniel Zeichner are co-chairs of the APPG, which had its inaugural meeting in January.

Latest on campaign to defend nuclear pensions

The threat to override statutory pension protections applying to Prospect members working in nuclear decommissioning could undermine pension provision for everyone. Pensions officer Neil Walsh explains why in his blog on the TUC Touchstone site, Why decommissioning nuclear workers’ pensions could be hazardous to us all. Please share it on social media. 

AWE pensions dispute ends 

Members at the Atomic Weapons Establishment have voted to end a long-running pension dispute. They secured major improvements to the company’s original proposal for a defined contribution scheme after a one-day strike and prolonged work to rule. But they are disappointed at the closure of the defined benefit scheme because of the government’s refusal to honour promises.

Public sector pension reform in the Isle of Man

A ballot on major reforms to the main public sector pension scheme on the Isle of Man has concluded with a relatively narrow vote to accept the proposed changes.

Prospect’s plans to support apprentices

Apprenticeships in England are undergoing a revolution as the government introduces a new levy for employers and more generous subsidies to train them, from this April.

Prospect is developing a strategy to support good quality apprenticeships – keep a look out at www.prospect.org.uk/apprentices. With other unions, we have already negotiated an improved apprentices agreement in the civil service.

Welcome for Openreach appointment

Sir Brendan Barber, former TUC general secretary, has been appointed as the worker representative on the board of Openreach. He also the current chair of the ACAS conciliation service. Prospect says he will “bring a wealth of experience of industrial and employee relations” to the role.

Sellafield workers hail Ken Loach visit to Whitehaven  

Film director and BECTU member Ken Loach visited Whitehaven’s Mirehouse estate on the eve of the Copeland by-election to show his acclaimed film I, Daniel Blake. Steve Nicholson, Prospect branch secretary at the nearby Sellafield nuclear site, was one of many workers in the audience and put a video of the director’s opening remarks on Facebook.

“The film epitomises the fight that many people on Mirehouse estate face, through unemployment and poverty,” says Steve. “As close as it is to Sellafield – Cumbria’s major employer – Mirehouse is one of the most deprived areas in the north of England.”

FEBRUARY BLOGS

Education journalist Warwick Mansell highlights a spate of reports showing key failures in government education policy, leaving the door open to push for changes.

  

Neil Walsh explains the potential downside to accessing small pension pots while still working and why the situation might be worse from April.

 

Sue Ferns says that while the EU has approved the CETA free-trade agreement between the EU and Canada, unions will continue to press for action over controversial aspects such as the Investment Court System, which have not yet been ratified.

 Mike Clancy uses TUC heart unions week in February to thank reps for their hard work and says members love Prospect because it is “responsive, relentless and resilient”

 

ALSO NEW THIS MONTH

  • Employer ignorance of disability equality law and fees for employment tribunals are just two of the obstacles facing disabled employees, Prospect says in its response to the government’s Work, Health and Disability green paper.

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