Over the past few weeks we have been participating in the Pension Forums which we are running in conjunction with Nationwide. The purpose of the Forums has been to explain the Society’s reasons for instigating the review; to provide an overview of the proposed changes to the Nationwide Pension Fund; to help employees gain a better understanding of their pension arrangements and the impact of the proposed changes. Importantly, it has also been an opportunity for attendees to ask questions and have their say about the proposals.
The Forums have been well received but only a limited number of Fund members working in the Branch Network have been able to attend. With this in mind an online talkback is being held today (1 December 2011) between 4pm and 6pm and we hope this will provide the opportunity for more Fund members to participate in a discussion about the proposals. Union members have also had the opportunity to post views and comments to us using an online feedback form on our website and this facility remains available.
The overwhelming feedback from union members is that they recognise the pressures that exist and accept the need for some change. There has been considerable relief that future pension provision should continue on in a Defined Benefit Scheme. Members have also been greatly reassured that existing pension benefits and terms will be protected and the proposed change will only apply to future accrual under the proposed new CARE scheme from 1 April 2011. However, union members are supporting the negotiating team in seeking some improvement in the proposals. The key areas of concern are proposals to change the retirement age from 60 to 65; the rate of future increases to pensions in payment (currently the lower of RPI or 5% but proposed as the lower of RPI or 2.5%); and the impact of increased contributions for existing CARE members. There is also widespread support for some flexibility to be available for Fund members to make additional pension provision.
Once the Forum process has been completed we will be resuming negotiations with the Society and seeking changes to the proposals outlined above. If negotiations are successful we hope to conclude discussions over the next few weeks and to be in a position to communicate the outcome before Christmas. In the meantime, please continue to send us your comments using the feedback form on our website.
More information about the review, including a presentation setting out the proposals and what they mean, together with previous Union communications and our feedback form click here
The Union office will close at 1.00pm on 24th December and re-open on Wednesday 29th December.
Season greetings to all NGSU members
The onset of the Winter weather has prompted a number of members in the branch network to contact us about the regulations governing working in cold temperatures.The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 lay down particular requirements for most aspects of the working environment.Regulation 7 deals specifically with the temperature in indoor workplaces and states that:
‘During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.’
The associated Approved Code of Practice goes on to explain:
‘The temperature in workrooms should provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing. Where such a temperature is impractical because of hot or cold processes, all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a temperature which is as close as possible to comfortable. ‘Workroom’ means a room where people normally work for more than short periods.
The temperature in workrooms should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius unless much of the work involves severe physical effort in which case the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius. These temperatures may not, however, ensure reasonable comfort, depending on other factors such as air movement and relative humidity.’
So what does this mean in practice? If the temperature in your branch is below 16 degrees Celsius you should raise concerns with your manager. Your manager should seek advice from Area Office and Business Services and conduct a risk assessment, for example, to identify if anyone has health issues that may be affected by thermal discomfort. The Health & Safety Executive suggests that particular attention may be necessary for those people who are pregnant or have skin ailments, circulatory illnesses, respiratory illnesses, physical disabilities.
Possible remedial actions might be to provide additional heating; allow employees to wear additional clothing (i.e. change uniform requirements to suit the working environment); organise work to reduce exposure to the conditions e.g. work on a rotation basis and take rest-breaks. If conditions continue to cause thermal discomfort advice should be sought from Area Office about moving staff to warmer areas of the branch and, if necessary, closing the branch to public access.
We would hope that in most cases reasonable adjustments can be made to continue the successful operation of the branch. However, we would expect the Society to take its obligations under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 as seriously as any other regulation affecting the operation of the business. Union members who are concerned that there wellbeing is being affected by ‘thermal discomfort’ should contact us for advice.
Union Officials and Representatives will be holding events in some of the Administration Centres during December - please come along and meet us! We will also be joined by representatives from Benenden Healthcare Society who will be on hand to explain about the healthcare and benefits available from the Society. Anyone who decides to join on the day will receive a voucher for a free ‘flu-jab’! The dates for your diary are:
First Prize : £11,925
075759 : Margaret Harrison of Basildon
Second Prize : £5,000
091692 : Susan Perry of Accrington
Third Prize : £2,000
087158 : John Bushell of Pension Fund Member
Fourth Prizes : £500
080895 : Lesley Wollen of Mailroom
078438 : Steve Hatherall of Print Services
077515: Karan Johnson of Maidstone