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2010 Health Care Service Group Conference
8 December 2009
Carried as Amended

Conference reaffirms its commitment in protecting members’ pensions, who face privatisation/outsourcing in the NHS or have already been privatised/outsourced during the life of this government.

Conference notes the current present trend by private companies is moving to disband defined benefit pension schemes ( final salary schemes to its existing members), thereby raising the prospect of thousands of trade union members on low pay salaries not receiving their full entitlements through their pensionable age.

Conference supports our fellow trade unionists who are campaigning to defend their final pension schemes in their particular industries.

Conference notes that other companies such as DHL have chosen to implement salary sacrifice schemes, which claim to leave members’ pension benefits unchanged. The principles of these schemes are employees will no longer pay their own pension contribution. The employer will pay it for them, along with the company’s own regular contribution.

In return the employee accepts a reduction to their gross pay equal to the amount they regularly contribute to the pension scheme. Due to the reduction of gross pay, employees will pay less National Insurance contribution, meaning an increase in the amount of their take home pay.

The employer also saves money, because they will pay less employer National Insurance Contributions. While Conference recognises various safeguards such as employees earning the minimum wage and those working less than 16 hours per week, where the scheme may influence job seekers allowances, these safeguards are discretionary and these schemes may still have a negative effect on members, who solely have contribution pension schemes.

Conference believes large multinational companies should currently pay their appropriate taxes and national insurance to ensure public services, such as hospitals, schools, social services etc, can continue provide top quality service to the public.

Conference recognises the developing threat to the NHSPS as a defined benefit scheme. This is being fuelled by lies in the national media about notionally funded public service schemes like the NHSPS being unaffordable; at a time when many good final salary schemes in the private sector are closing because of serious financial constraint and political change.

Conference call on the Health Service Group Executive:

1.In the event of any other NHS private contractor seeking to introduce a pension sacrifice scheme, HSGE endeavours to support branches, in campaigning for the NHS private contractor to open its financial accounts. Thereby allowing members to see whether the employers National Insurance contribution savings are being properly invested for the benefit of the majority pension scheme members, rather than helping to supplement the large pension pay outs of company directors.

2. To request the employer provides each pension member with an opt-out form, as part of the consultation process.

3A commitment from the employee for those pension members, who choose to opt out, that they will not be discriminated against.

4A clear commitment from the employer that members who choose to participate with a pension salary sacrifice scheme, that overtime rates, holiday pay, bonus payments, statutory maternity/paternity/adoption and sick pay etc will not be affected.

5. Conference calls on the HSGE to launch a campaign to defend the NHSPS in coordination with the wider campaign across the union to defend good pension provision.