Transport union TSSA has reacted with anger and disappointment to the company’s latest response on the Transport for London (TfL) pensions review, warning the removal of the ‘no change’ option threatens an industrial dispute.
In the Barber Review – conducted by Sir Brendan Barber in 2021-22 - ‘no change’ was a clear and viable option, maintaining TFL workers’ current pension provision. The pension scheme is performing well and is not in deficit. Other options favoured by the Conservative government include closing the current TfL scheme and replacing it with one which cuts the pension provision for workers.
TfL Commissioner Andy Lord snuck out the company’s response at the end of Friday, giving no time for staff or unions to respond. In the company and government correspondence, ‘no change’ no longer appears as an option, although the Commissioner says that no changes are currently being proposed.
TSSA Interim General Secretary, Peter Pendle, said: “TSSA has been clear throughout the pension review process that we will vigorously oppose any cuts to the staff pension scheme.
“The TfL pension scheme is in rude health and is a key benefit for staff who have seen their salaries eroded through pay freezes over multiple years.
“Andy Lord’s correspondence on Friday was disappointing. Make no mistake, if the government or company makes moves to cut TfL workers’ pensions, then we will ballot our members for industrial action in defence of their hard-won pension rights.”
The letter, which was published on Friday 17 March, gives details of which government proposals the Employer would be prepared to support and has removed the ‘no change’ option. TSSA believes there is no good reason for this, as detailed in the TfL Pension Independent Review Final Report by Brendan Barber in March 2022.
A survey of TSSA members in September 2021 clearly demonstrated the high value staff place on the pensions scheme, with 99% of respondents seeing their pension as an important part of their employment reward package. 96% of respondents consider the long-term future of the TfL Pension Fund in its current form as either ‘extremely important’ or ‘very important’ to them.
TSSA represents staff across TfL, London Underground and Rail for London (Infrastructure) who are all covered by the TfL Pension Fund.
TSSA survey of members
TSSA surveyed members across TfL in the run-up to 8 September 2021. The results were included in the union’s submission to the Barber Independent Review of the TfL pension Fund 1st Call for Evidence (submitted 16 September 2021).
Some of the key results included:
- 96% of TSSA’s members see the long-term future of the TfL Pension Fund in its current form as either ‘extremely important’ or ‘very important’ to them
- 80.6% of members supported keeping contributions at current levels
- 99% of respondents see their pension as an important part of their employment reward package.
- 83% agreed that in the event that “the Fund was changed so that it became more expensive for members and/or future pension benefits were reduced, it would influence whether they continued to work for TfL and lead them to choose to leave for another job.”
- 66.4% - who do not trust TfL to protect the Pension Fund