Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, has landed a vital first blow in its battle to protect the pensions of thousands of Guernsey workers.
In an embarrassing outcome for the States, the Guernsey court yesterday (15 December) accepted Unite’s concerns that the States of Guernsey was submitting inappropriate information in its defence of its controversial pension changes.
In a setback for the States, the judge warned the States of Guernsey that they had to seek permission to amend their submissions or risk them being declared inadmissible to the court.
The union has taken the States of Guernsey to court in its long running dispute over changes to the Final Salary Pension Scheme that have been imposed upon employees by the States.
Unite is disputing the changes to the pension scheme on the grounds that they breach the contract between the employer and the workers. Affecting some 5,000 public sector workers on the islands, the States’ changes will see employees pay more into the scheme but will also force workers to work longer before they can claim their pension.
Commenting on this first vital victory, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said:
“The court’s decision represents the first step forward in the union’s fight to defend the pensions of our members in the States of Guernsey.
“This is the first but significant development in this legal action and we face a long battle ahead.
“But this decision by the court also gives the States of Guernsey an opportunity to reflect upon their determination to weaken pension protection for Guernsey’s workers. The employer needs to seriously re-think its proposals, because Unite will robustly defend our members and we will continue this legal fight. I urge the States of Guernsey to avoid further embarrassment and enter into negotiations to resolve this dispute.
“Once again, the lack of employment legislation in Guernsey highlights the importance of the contracts of employment for our members as the most dependable way to protect working people.
“While Unite is pursuing this case on behalf of our own members, it clearly has the potential to benefit all States employees. This shows just how critical strong and independent trade unions are in fighting back against attacks from employers on the terms and conditions of our members.”
Unite members in the States of Guernsey were compulsorily enrolled into the pension scheme. The imposed, inferior changes which came into place on 1 March 2016 detrimentally impacted employees across the States of Guernsey and their retirement benefits, including nurses, care workers, firefighters, police officers, teachers, civil servants, refuse collectors, support staff, harbour and airport workers.
Further court proceedings are listed for January.
For further information, please call Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.
Notes to editors
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.