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TSSA Strike Warning Rail Over Pensions Future

15 January 2020

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has written to the heads of each of Britain's train operating companies (TOCs) warning of industrial dispute if there is any attempt to close the Railways Pension Scheme (RPS). 

The move follows a report in the Financial Times (9th Jan 2020 – ‘Britain’s railway mess will not be sorted until pensions are reformed’). 

The RPS was set up in 1994 during the privatisation of the railways and is still open to new members, offering a final salary and retirement age at 62 (for the majority of members). 

In his letter Manuel Cortes says he wants to ‘make it very clear that TSSA will resist any attack on the way that the RPS is structured or if any attempt is made to close it in any form, including to further accrual and to new starters’. 

Cortes accuses the FT piece of ‘ignoring the structural problems that Keith Williams has been looking at as part of his Government commissioned Rail Review’. 

Cortes also writes that the article ‘ignores informal discussions that have been taking place’ between the TOCs, unions, pensions administrators and government. 

Cortes goes on - ‘the FT piece calls for the closure of the scheme, replacing it with a defined contribution arrangement which by its nature is likely to be an inferior pensions’ offering for railway workers, some of whom will have statutory protected status and/or an indefeasible right to membership of the RPS’. 

Commenting Cortes said: “The rail bosses know full well that the failure here not the pension scheme but privatisation itself. Rail workers and rail unions are at the forefront of keeping our railways running safely – while private companies have stuffed gold into the mouths of shareholders. 

“Let me be clear – the pensions scheme is off the table and I now want to hear that loud and clear from the bosses of the rail companies or a national rail strike is very much on the cards.” 

Full text of Manuel Cortes’ letter -  

Letter to Train Operating Companies (TOCs) On Railways Pension Scheme  

Re: Financial Times Article, 'Britain's Railway Mess Will Not Be Sorted Until Pensions Are Reformed'. 

I am writing to you following the publication of the above article which appeared in the Financial Times today and makes a series of claims about the state of the Railways Pension Scheme (RPS). 

As the title implies, the authors of the article are blaming the current problems in the railway industry on the deficit in the RPS, ignoring the structural problems that Keith Williams has been looking at as part of his Government commissioned Rail Review. 

It also ignores informal discussions that have been taking place between the TOC employers, RDG, RPMI and the railway trade unions under the IPSG process and which have also involved The Pensions Regulator and Department for Transport. 

The FT piece calls for the closure of the Scheme, replacing it with a defined contribution arrangement which by its nature is likely to be an inferior pensions’ offering for railway workers, some of whom will have statutory protected status and/or an indefeasible right to membership of the RPS. 

In drawing this matter to your attention, I am writing to ask how you intend to respond to the suggestions in the article? 

I also want to make it very clear that TSSA will resist any attack on the way that the RPS is structured or if any attempt is made to close it in any form, including to further accrual and winding up. 

I look forward to your response. 

Yours sincerely 

Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary 

  

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