Narrow vote in favour of Isle of Man pensions shake-up


Narrow vote in favour of Isle of Man pensions shake-up

Public sector workers have voted by a relatively narrow margin to accept major changes to the Isle of Man Government Unified Scheme (GUS), its employees’ main pension scheme.

Thinkstock Isle of Man Douglas Harbour

The overall result was 58% in favour and 42% against, on a turnout of more than 70% of members eligible to take part in the postal ballot.

However, it was much closer in some branches, with members working in social care, health care and prisons accepting by only one or two votes. In total, 949 members voted in favour and 700 against, with a majority to accept from all six branches.

The main proposed changes are:

  • a 6% reduction in the value of pension that can be accrued after April 2017
  • increasing member contributions by an extra 2.5% of pay, to be phased in from April 2018.

Prospect negotiator Angela Moffatt said: “The fact that a majority accepted the changes should in no way be interpreted as members being happy about the reforms. People voted yes to bring a long and difficult process to an end. Those who voted no did so knowing that rejection would mean an industrial action ballot.

“The narrow result and high turnout demonstrate the strength of feeling of Prospect members about this difficult issue.”

Tynwald will vote on regulations to amend GUS when it sits next week. The debate will also consider high-level principles for a “cost sharing” mechanism intended to ensure the scheme remains sustainable in the future.

Moffatt continued: “It is important for Tynwald to recognise the very difficult decision Prospect members have made and to endorse the proposed reforms. The scheme has been subject to far too much change and uncertainty since it was established and everyone now needs a long period of stability.”

The proposed reforms came after detailed work by a technical sub-committee of a group established by Tynwald to consider the affordability and sustainability of public sector pensions.

Prospect pensions officer Neil Walsh, who participated in those discussions, said: “There are no easy solutions.

“These reforms are better than the original proposals in a number of ways but they still require members to pay more for lower benefits.

“Prospect took the responsible position of seeking to negotiate the best possible terms and putting these to our members. The final decision was up to them and if they had rejected the proposals our next step would have been to organise an industrial action ballot.

“The fact that so many members were prepared to vote against should concentrate minds.”

  • Photo shows: Douglas Harbour, Isle of Man