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Caithness News Bulletins March 2005

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Highland Council      
21 March 05
Strike Called Off

The Highland Council, in association with Unison, AMICUS and UCATT, has confirmed that the day of strike action planned for Wednesday, 23 March, has been called off and employees should report to work as normal on Wednesday.

Strike Wednesday 23 March 2005 - Latest
18 March 05
The Highland Council is advising the public that there may be a disruption to some services it provides on Wednesday 23 March as the result of industrial action being taken by members of UNISON, AMICUS and UCATT in protest at Government proposals to change pension rights. The action will cover the period from 8 am - 6 pm on Wednesday only.

Teaching unions, GMB and TGWU are not taking strike action.

The Council is currently assessing the likely effect of strike action and will have a clearer picture on Monday when the Council will widely publicise any school and office/library/leisure centre closures and/or disruption to service, such as refuse collection or the use of civic amenity sites.

Head teachers will advise parents on Monday of possible disruption or closures, basing their decisions on health and safety considerations.  Head teachers will also use the emergency closure phone line to keep parents appraised of local situations.

Due to the strike action, the Council has postponed its meeting of the Planning Development Europe and Tourism Committee, due to be held at Council Headquarters, Inverness, at 10.30 am on Wednesday. The meeting has been rearranged for Wednesday 6 April, commencing at 10.30 am.

What's It All About?
One of the main issues is the government moves to reduce pension rights in the public sector.  Increasing retirement ages and the age at which anyone can apply for early retirement.

Many public sector workers face:

  • an increase in the age at which they can claim their full pension, from 60 to 65.
  • a 30 percent loss in pension if they retire at 60.

From April 2005 local government workers in England and Wales face a phasing out of the “rule of 85” scheme.

At present the normal retirement age in local government is 65. But under the “rule of 85” around half of local government workers can apply to retire between 60 and 65 because their age and the number of years they have contributed to the scheme is at least 85.

Scottish workers face the same assault from 2006.

From April 2006 health workers face:

  • An increase in the normal retirement age from 60 to 65 for new workers and, from 2013, for existing workers.
  • an end to the final salary scheme for new workers, to be replaced with a career average scheme.
  • an attack on early retirement due to sickness.

From April 2006 civil service workers face:

  • a rise in the retirement age for new workers from 60 to 65.
  • an end to the final salary scheme — again replaced with a career average scheme.
  • from April 2013 the retirement age for all civil service workers will rise to 65. If you are now under 52, it will hit you!

From September 2006 teachers and FE lecturers face:

  • an increase in the retirement age for new entrants from 60 to 65.
  • new regulations which could lead to even fewer teachers being allowed to retire on health
  • from September 2013 the retirement age will rise to 65 for existing teachers. Any teacher
       currently aged under 52 will have to work until they are 65.

For many public sector workers, a Green Paper proposes from 2008:

  • an increase in employee contributions from 6 to 7 percent.
  • a reduction in “pensionable pay” by excluding shift payments and contractual overtime from    pension calculations.