Report to Wolverhampton, Bilston & District Trades Union Council of latest meeting

Report  Midlands TUC Pensioners’ Network 22 November 2017

 

18 present; 50;50-ish gender balance. Continuing issue how to involve Black trade unionists. Bob Deacon attended on the trades council’s behalf.

 

Main topic: Our NHS

Speaker: Annette Mansell Green, British Dietetic Association & TUC General Council

Malcolm Swann, UNISON, reported on Health Campaigns Together Conference, Hammersmith Town Hall 4th November (Report available on request.)

  • NHS major concern for older people therefore for our network but hard for a regional body to operationalise as campaigns need to be local and focused;
  • Good local work in Midlands e.g. Chesterfield, Corby, Stoke on Trent;
  • However, campaigns sometimes reactive, defensive, late in the day; Links between campaigners and unions not always good
  • Dilemma whether to get involved in NHS structures like CCG Patient Participation Groups - Window dressing?
  • STPs important focus – secrecy, opaque language, lack of consultation;
  • 70th anniversary of NHS July 2018 – possible focus
  • Campaigns led by older people. Younger people responsive but involvement hard to sustain;
  • Anomaly oldies NHS’s greatest beneficiaries but also social group most likely to vote Tory;
  • TUC and larger trade unions not good at mobilising, procedures cumbersome
  • TUC plays into media hands – doctors and nurses narrative – marginalises other NHS workers, prominence of BMA and RCN – non-TUC unions;
  • Immediate funding crisis, PFI debt
  • NHS problems insoluble without solution to social care, pending Green Paper

 

Local Housing Allowance Caps

Prime Minister announced caps will not apply to social housing. Removes threat to extend Bedroom Tax to pensioners or to cap under-35s in social housing at the shared accommodation rate. But continuing threat to sheltered/supported housing e.g. announcement 29 November re domestic violence refuges.

 

Tenth Anniversary of the Bus Pass

Details of bus tour starting to be put together. Likely to be in Wolverhampton midday Wednesday 11th April.

 

Other items

  • Finance: £700+ in hand. Financial appeal with bus tour publicity in January
  • Women’s Pensions Working Group has made links shadow minister
  • 2018 appointments and executive nominations
  • Surviving Same-Sex Partners pensions – following Supreme Court decision
  • Britain Still Needs a Pay Rise – Northampton Rally 21st October

 

Bob Deacon 30th November 2017

 

Briefing to the TUC pensioners’ committee – 31/10/17 – Matt Creagh (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Impact of Walker - Headline
The Supreme Court found that UK legislation which permitted discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation (ironically contained in the Equality Act) was incompatible with the Equal Treatment Directive. Any discrimination relating to the provision of services/benefits (including benefits), arising after the Equal Treatment Directive, on the grounds of sexual orientation, is not acceptable. Regardless of UK legislation which permits this.
Impact of Walker on pensions
Some key dates which were referred to in this case:
1. 5th December 2005 – civil partnerships were introduced into law.
2. 2nd December 2003 – UK implementation of the Framework Directive for Equal Treatment - Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003, later the Equality Act
3. Barber decision of 1990
Key facts of the case:
Mr Walker is a gay man who has been living with his partner since 1993.
Applied for a civil partnership on 05/12/2006 – it was registered on 23/01/06
They are now married
Shortly after the civil partnership was registered, Mr Walker asked Innospec to confirm that, in the event of his death, they would pay the spouse’s pension, which the scheme provides for, to his civil partner. Innospec’s pensions scheme provides that when a member dies a substantial pension passes on to the survivor’s spouse.
They refused, because his service predated 5 December 2005.
If Mr Walker was married to a woman, or, indeed, if he married a woman in the future, she would be entitled on his death to the pension provided by the scheme to a surviving spouse. When the claim was issued, the value of that “spouse’s pension” was about £45,700 per annum. As things stand at present, Mr Walker’s husband will be entitled to a pension of about £1,000 per annum (the statutory guaranteed minimum).
The basis of the refusal (which was confirmed after Mr Walker and his partner married) is paragraph 18 of Schedule 9 to the Equality Act 2010. This provisions makes it lawful to discriminate against a person in a civil partnership/same sex marriage from having access to a benefit, facility or service, if the right to that service accrued before 5 December 2005.
Mr Walker brought a claim to ET claiming direct discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Successful at Employment Tribunal, but failed at Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal – why?
They referred to a line of legal reasoning from the Barber case – which said that new legal rules (Equal Treatment Directive) did not apply to services/benefits which were permanently fixed. Barber basically said that as pension rights accrued they became fixed. And therefore any pension entitlements falling before the deadline for transposing the Directive fell outside it’s scope.
Crux of the matter considered by the Supreme Court is whether the provisions in the Equality Act contravened the Equal Treatment Directive
Supreme Court findings
1. Yes, Innospec had discriminated against Mr Walker and they could not rely on the Equality Act as this was incompatible with the Directive.
2. Three of the judges – Barber line of reasoning did not apply – there were exceptional circumstances around this case.
3. Recent decision from the ECJ – Romer and Maruko – very similar facts to Walker – both periods of service were entirely or almost entirely before the implementation of the Dircective – ECJ held in both cases that the same sex partner should be entitled to pension provision.

Parris v Trinity College Dublin
Reference to the ECJ from the Labour Court in Ireland. Also concerned a claim for a survivor’s pension under the Framework Directive.
Entered a UK civil partnership in 2009. Civil partnerships not recognised in Ireland until 2011.
He had been paying into his non-contributory occupational pension scheme since 1972. He retired in 2010.
His scheme provided a survivor’s pension. But only where the marriage took place before the member’s 60th birthday.
ECJ considered whether there was indirect discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, direct age discrimination, and/or discrimination of those grounds.
UK made submissions that because his service predated the implementation of 2003 directive they could not be subject to the principle of equal treatment.
Advocate General Kokott rejected the UK govt arguments.
However there was no discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in this case because the age limit applied to both opposite sex and same sex couples based on an age requirement.

Further considerations:

In their provision of survivor benefits, public service schemes discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and sex. Survivor benefits paid to same-sex spouses, civil partners and widowers are based on pensionable service from 6 April 1988. Benefits paid to widows of an opposite sex marriage are based on pensionable service from 1 April 1972 onwards.
Future case of O’Brien – part time judge – equal treatment on pension provisions – ECJ to consider the Barber line of reasoning
Impact of Brexit – ECJ case law still be binding? Would provisions of the Equality Act mentioned above, still stand if they are not amended pre-Brexit, in light of the Walker case?
Impact on public sector – Barber line of reasoning – there may be exceptional circumstances where it is not possible to pay pension liabilities – for example where these might have a catastrophic effect on public finances.
TUC has written to Chief Secretary of Treasury to seek reassurance that there will be equal treatment for same sex couples in public sector pensions scheme – 31/07/17
Response from the Treasury – 22/08/17 – no commitment and they are considering the implications of the Walker case

 

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Report to Wolverhampton, Bilston & District Trades Union Council

Midlands TUC Pensioners’ Network, 12th July 2017

18 present including, it appeared, ten women but only one Black member.

West Midlands Pensioners’ Convention / UKIP
North Staffs TUC rep defended WMPC’s position but proposed no course of action so the network’s links with WMPC remain suspended.

TUC Action following the General Election
Rob Johnson, region’s Policy & Campaigns Officer, reviewed the election result and current position. TUC focus on public sector pay cap. Two rallies planned in West Midlands (details to follow):
Stoke on Trent 30th September
Telford 14th October

Bus Services Act 2017
Enacted in pre-election wash-up. Act is very modest. Won’t challenge dominant position of five multi-national companies which seldom compete or reverse 39% drop in bus use since deregulation in 1986. Opportunities for campaigning may arise with election of metro-mayor but opportunities are limited since no new funding comes with the act. Officers will meet Rob to explore incl poss link with 10th anniversary of bus pass.

Pensions etc.
DUP agreement appears to protect Triple Lock and universal Winter Fuel Payment. Government response on Cridland still awaited. Network set up a women’s working party which is developing a campaign.

Election of Executive Committee
UNISON raised an issue about people not appointed as delegates standing in EC election. Letter noted. Problem appears to be that some delegates struggle with the procedures of their own trade union.

Closure of Hospital Beds, North Staffs Malcolm Swann made a report. This sounds like a good piece of work that the rest of us could learn from.

Other Issues
Carers Week not pursued this year cos General election; poss next year.
Black History Month possibility of event being investigated.
Demo at Tory Party Conference Sunday 1st October
Finance £961.51 in hand. Banner cost £124.55.
UNISON Residential Care Charter
Phoenix House – campaign to prevent closure successful

Bob Deacon
17th July 2017

 

 

Report to Wolverhampton, Bilston & District Trades Union Council

Midlands TUC Pensioners Network 22nd March 2017

Attendance 21 delegates representing six unions1 and five trades councils2 including, it appeared, twelve women and nine men but only one Black delegate.

Election of Executive Committee
Chairperson Yvonne Washbourne, PCS
Deputy Chairperson Bob Deacon, Wolverhampton
Secretary Jean Williams, UNISON
West Midlands General Seats Brian Adam, GMB
Winifred Whitehouse, UNISON
West Midlands Women’ Seats Margaret Clark, GMB – elected
(contested) Sue Wood, UNISON – elected
(Judith Longbottom, UNISON – not elected)
East Midlands General Seats Two vacancies
East Midlands Women’ Seats Rowena Dawson, UCU
One Vacancy
Observer TUC Pensions Committee Yvonne Washbourne

Finance: Current balance £982.76; outstanding donation from Walsall UNISON; banner still to pay for - est. £100-£150.

Splendid New Banner, made by Rowena Dawson and Winifred Whitehouse, on display at Midlands TUC AGM, had its first outing at NHS demo, March 4th.

Midlands TUC Equality Forum Inaugural meeting held 27th January. Report from Monica Taylor (Unite) and Sue Wood (UNISON). Still to find its feet. Concerns it gets support it needs to get under way.

Work Plan for 2017 Adopted. Available on request. Some features:
Bulletin to be produced to improve communication with MTUC and unions;
Possible joint work with Women’s Committee around Carers’ Week (12-18 June);
West Midlands Pensioners’ Convention – future links questionable following WMPC invite to UKIP- to be raised with Regional Secretary;
Pensions – Sod’s Law would have it our meeting fell the day before publication of Cridland’s final report! Network set up a group to look at women’s pension issues;
Transport was to have been main topic for March meeting but speaker cried off. Agreed invite July or November. Need to get to grips with Buses Bill.

Other Items
Pharmacy Closures – currently subject to judicial review.
Attendance Allowance – reported previously.
Worcester TUC 125th Anniversary.
DWP office closure – impact on Mesothelioma Scheme – see attached briefing from Asbestos Support Central England.

Future Meetings 12th July and 22nd November –both Wednesdays, 1pm-3pm, Unite, Derby.

Bob Deacon  27th March 2017

 

Midlands TUC Pensioners’ Network - report of meeting on 30th November 2016

 

Attendance

14 delegates including, it appeared, 7 women but only one Black delegate.

 

Main Item – UNISON’s Save Care Now Campaign

Nottingham is first Midlands Council to sign UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter. Mick Moreton, an organiser working with the UNISON branch, described their campaign. Key factors seemed to be that portfolio holder for social care was well disposed and detailed work with managers responsible for commissioning. Underpinned by relatively high membership density but no public campaigning or community links. Proof of the pudding will come with later contract management and monitoring.

Midlands TUC Equality Conference Brief report. Network elected Monica Taylor (Unite) and Sue Wood (UNISON) as network reps to the new Equality Committee.

2017 Network Nominations Request has been circulated.

Sustainability and Transformation Plans Elaine Smith (Unite) attended September 17th conference. Conference joint statement circulated. Plans now available. Delegates urged to get to grips with local plans. Elaine may be able to assist.

National TUC Pensioners’ Committee Wash reported on October meeting. Covered Action for Rail, Buses Bill, Cridland Review – re further increases to State Pension Age; Pharmacy Closures - Top-&-tail letter to be circulated, Young Workers’ Month.

Committee appears more positive and campaigning-focused. Spends less time moaning about the infrequency of its meetings and its lack of status.

Bedroom Tax. Government plans to use Local Housing Allowance rates to cap Housing Benefit without any exemption for pensioners, in effect extending the Bedroom Tax to pensioners

Attendance Allowance We reviewed campaign so far including Tory Party conference lobby – now on hold awaiting further government proposals.

 

Other Items

  • Banner under production at last
  • Financial appeal raised £675. Delegates asked to convey thanks.
  • Action for Rail 3rd January
  • East Midlands Pensioners Convention planning “Generations United” Event

  

Bob Deacon UNISON 06.12.2016

 

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Report to Wolverhampton, Bilston & District Trades Union Council

Midlands TUC Pensioners’ Network, Derby, 10th August 2016

Attendance: 16 – 8 women and 8 men – that’s two meetings in a row we have achieved gender parity – but, it appeared, not including any Black delegates.

Attendance Allowance: This was the main item. The government proposes to devolve responsibility, in England to councils. The network has raised the issue with Congress House and has produced a top-&-tail letter to MPs

Unwelcome the Tories to Birmingham, 1st-5th October

International Day for Older People, 1st October

Network agreed to work with West Midlands Pensioners’ Convention and Coventry Branch British Pensioners’ and Trades Unionists’ Action Association to do a street stall on Monday 3rd October, probably on Attendance Allowance. Details will be circulated once available.

Besides the network’s activity to unwelcome the Tories, other stuff I’m aware of ….

  • Saturday 1st October: Peoples’ Assembly Conference

  • Sunday 2nd October: Midlands TUC/Peoples’ Assembly Demo Victoria Square 11.30am.

  • Plus some cultural/entertainment stuff with which the UNISON Regional LGBT group and Birmingham Branch are involved. Details: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    This will be held for the second year. Details will be included in the October newsletter if available.

    Financial Appeal, following delay, was circulated in July. The only donations received by the time of the network meeting were from Wolverhampton and Worcester Trades Councils.

    Executive Committee Vacancies

    Farouk Haidar, Mike McLoughlin and Elaine Smith (all Unite) elected.

    Future Meetings

    Network: 30 November*, 22 March, 12 July, 22 November

    Executive: 11 January, 10 May, 20 September

    *Speaker from Nottingham UNISON on City Council adopting Ethical Care Charter

    Other Items

    • Banner

    • Midlands TUC Equalities Conference, Saturday 29th October

    • Network Membership – total now 40, including 18 women.

    • Review Pensions Conference, Leicester, 18th May

    • Review Stall at Chainmakers

    • Action for Rail 13th August

    • Merger of Midland TUC LGBT, BAME and Disabled Groups

    • Health Campaigns Together Conference 17th September

    Bob Deacon, 7th September 2016