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Thursday, 10 August 2017

A woman in your 60s affected by changes in retirement age?

Women aged between 60 and 62 are an average of £32 a week worse off due to changes in the state pension age. The Guardian Newspaper would like to find out how this affects you.

Women in their early 60s have lost an average of £32 a week from changes in the retirement age, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) reported today.

The increase in the age that women can receive their state pension has lowered the income of more than a million women, according to the IFS study, while the government has saved £5.1bn a year.

Many women are working for longer as a result of the changes and some are now facing hardship after many years of work and paying National Insurance Contributions with the expectation of an earlier State Pension, an expectation which will bring the state pension age to an equal level - 65 - for men and women by November 2018, before rising to 66 by October 2020.

PCS ARMs is supporting the 'WASPI Campaign' to address this injustice but we need to keep it in the public eye and expose what the Government has done and their refusal to properly address this injustice. You can help by telling your story or letting a family member, friend or neighbour know about this continuing campaign.

Are you a woman aged between 60 and 62 affected by the changes? Are you struggling financially? Have you decided to work for longer? How has this affected your life?
Share your experiences:

The Guardian Newspaper would like to hear from women in their early 60s affected by the change in state pension age. If you would like to share your experience, please fill in the form at this link, anonymously if you prefer. The Guardian will feature some of your responses in their reporting.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Third legal defeat for Government in a fortnight

From a PCS press release 4 August 2017:

(Note: this may affect ARMS members who left work after the changes were imposed)

Unlawful cuts to civil service redundancy pay have been quashed by the High Court in the third major legal defeat for the government in just over a week, the Public and Commercial Services union says. Judges also refused the government’s request to appeal and ordered it to pay the union’s costs, including an immediate £40,000 as an "interim payment". It opens the door for civil servants made redundant under the new terms imposed in November to claim compensation after being left thousands of pounds worse off.

The order comes just over a week after Unison won major victories in the courts over employment tribunal fees and the need for employers to properly consult when making major changes in the workplace.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "This is a great win for us and all civil servants, and another humiliating defeat for the government that treated its workforce with contempt by excluding us from talks. In trying to fix the terms of the negotiations the government only succeeded in showing itself to be weak, vulnerable and afraid of serious discussion. The judgement proves how important it is to belong to a trade union that is prepared to fight back."

Background:

The court ruled last month the Tories’ latest cuts to the terms of the civil service compensation scheme - which governs voluntary and compulsory redundancy pay - were unlawful because the Cabinet Office excluded the union from negotiations.

Lord Justice Sales and Mrs Justice Whipple ruled former Cabinet Office minister Ben Gummer - who lost his seat at the general election - failed in his legal "duty to consult with a view to reaching agreement" by excluding PCS from more than a dozen meetings attended by most of the smaller unions.

In a letter to the unions in June, a senior Cabinet Office official wrote:

"I want to be clear that attendance at any further discussions will be taken as a clear commitment that those unions engaging in the talks have accepted that the proposal above will form the basis of a reformed, negotiated, set of arrangements that their relevant executives can recommend acceptance to their members in any ballot."

The judgement stated: "There was no basis on which the Minister was entitled to exclude the PCSU from the consultation. It cannot be said that it is highly likely that the outcome would not have been affected if the PCSU had been allowed to participate in the second round of discussions, as it should have been."

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Justice for sale - again

Hot on the heels of their defeat in the Supreme Court over fees for Employment Tribunals, the Government has surreptitiously published proposals for another way to rake in profits from our justice system by sneaking out plans during MPs' excessive summer holidays for a controversial privatisation.

The Ministry of Justice has announced today (1 August) it wants to outsource the collection of courts fines currently done by almost 150 civil servants. Two years ago an attempt to privatise all enforcement work was abandoned and a Freedom of Information request by our union revealed the five-year project cost taxpayers £8 million.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service civilian enforcement officers, who are subject to the civil service code governing standards of behaviour, have the authority to search premises and place defaulters in custody, and can access sensitive data held on government systems, including the Police National Computer. The code would not apply to staff working for private companies motivated by profit, and we share the concerns raised by Citizens Advice and other debt advice agencies earlier this year about the need for substantial reform to protect vulnerable people from rogue bailiffs.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "The last time ministers tried to do something similar it ended up costing taxpayers £8 million before being abandoned, now they’re trying to avoid scrutiny by sneaking it out during the summer holiday. This work is highly sensitive and should remain in-house instead of being handed to private bailiffs whose motive is profit."

Most info from PCS website