Tuesday, 11 March 2014
"Tax Payers Battered Again"
Nearly six thousand public sector workers in Jersey face major pension reforms.
Under new plans unveiled today, the vast majority of them will have to pay more in contributions and will get less back when they retire.
The government says an ageing population means it needs to end the Final Salary scheme to ensure the whole thing is sustainable.
Similar moves in the UK have led to strike action and unions here are refusing to rule out industrial action if the final deal isn't good enough.
Senator Ian Gorst, Jersey's Chief Minister, said: "If we carry on with the final salary pension scheme it is not affordable. We will, with the best will in the world, we won't be able to afford it. What we need to do is change the scheme that we've got to a fairer, sustainable and more affordable career average scheme and even then employees are going to have to pay more and the employer is going to have to pay more."
The prospect of working for longer before retirement, paying more into a pension, and then getting less back has left some public sector workers less than impressed.
Maurice Illien is a States manual worker. He said: "Well how would you feel? End of story. You come to work to earn your brown envelope. You don't come to work out of a duty to serve the public, that comes second. In order to get one, you have to do the other."
At the moment, public sector workers contribute 5% of their earnings to the pension scheme. Under the proposed changes, that will rise to 8% for civil servants and 10.1% for uniformed services like police and fire.
Retirement ages will also rise, from 65 to 67 for civil servants, and from 55 to 60 for uniformed services.
At the same time, the employer will also have to pay in more. It's currently around 14%. That will rise to 16%.
The man representing Jersey's unions in the negotiations over the changes is hoping to avoid the kind of strike action seen by public sector workers in the UK.
Mark Richardson, chairman of the Joint Negotiating Group, said: "Any talk of strike action is totally premature. I hope that we don't get to that. I think the deal that will ultimately be on the table is a good one. It's not out of kilter with what has been agreed in the UK for example, it's very similar to that. And I hope members will think that it's a fair deal."
But with some six thousand workers, including fire crews, nurses and road diggers to keep happy, filling the pension black hole won't be easy. The government wants this agreed by the end of the year.
Click here for the complete proposals from the States Employment Board.