Rail Pensions Commission established – ASLEF spells out what will be acceptable

21 September 2006

General Secretary Keith Norman says that while ASLEF supports the concept of a Rail Pensions Commission it is adamant that its principle objective should be highlighted. The Commission was formally launched today. ‘The Commission’s principle objective – from which it should not be diverted - is to conceive ways of rationalising the 103 schemes created by privatisation into a maximum of three. That is its goal and its reason for being.

 

'Without constantly referring to this clear direction - without defining the single major priority - ASLEF is concerned that we may emerge with a few volumes of academic research.

 

'We don't want this. We want practical proposals to solve the problem of diverse, unrelated pension schemes in a single industry.'

 

The union says its differences with the signatures of the joint press release is, to some extent, only a matter of emphasis - because the other rail unions entirely agree with ASLEF's position.

 

'However, we don't want there to be any dubiety about our union's objectives - or those of the Rail Pension Commission,' Keith says.  'On the basis that all parties accept this, we have put our name to the joint release below.'

 

 The Railway Pensions Commission - Joint Rail Union Release

 

An independent Railway Pensions Commission has been set up by the rail unions and employers to review the current railways pensions scheme.

 

Against a background of rising costs of pension provision, the Commission will be asked to consider if any alternative means of long term pension provision might be available that would be fair and affordable for both employees and employers.

 

The commission will be chaired by former Turner pensions commissioner Jeannie Drake.  On accepting the appointment as chair, Jeannie said:

 

"The cost of pensions provision is rising and we need to find imaginative, affordable, equitable and sustainable solutions to maintaining long term pension provision"

 

Joining Jeannie on the commission will be Bryn Davies, an independent actuary, nominated by the trade unions (ASLEF, RMT, TSSA and the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions), and Peter Thompson, a consulting actuary, nominated by the employers (including Network Rail and the train operating companies).

 

The commission, which will start work mid-September, will gather evidence from all interested parties and aims to complete its report next summer. An interim report is expected early in 2007.

 

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said " the unions and employers in the rail industry have agreed a sensible and constructive approach to a complex problem. This is a top class team, I'm sure they will do a top class job."

 

On behalf of the rail industry employers, John Armitt, Chief Executive of Network Rail said; "This Commission provides a real opportunity to make progress in tackling the issues involved in providing affordable, good value pensions across the rail industry.  We look forward to considering the Commission's findings, and to working with the trade unions, as we seek ways of securing long-term pension provision for people in the industry."

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