My Ref: MRP 2/1
10th November 2021
Circular Num: NP/405/21
TO ALL BRANCHES AND REPRESENTATIVES
ALL UNDERGROUND AND FORMER LT EMPLOYERS
TFL PENSION FUND – INDEPENDENT REVIEW
I refer to my previous Circular NP/381/21, 15th October 2021, we are advised that Sir Brendan Barber, the Chair of the Review Panel looking into the TfL Pension Fund, recently shared with the TfL Pension Fund Trustee Board the “Review Principles”. In response I can report that the Chair of Trustee Board has written back to Sir Brendan and has expressed, on behalf of both beneficiary and employer trustees, its concerns that there appears to have been an apparent change in tone and direction in respect of the language that was used since the consultation was first carried out when a Call for Evidence was requested from all stakeholders.
We understand that the Trustee Board has challenged Sir Brendan by stating that collectively the Board feel the Review Panel has “moved the goal posts” as the terms of reference for the review stated that all options for potential reforms of the TfL’s Pension fund would rule nothing out or nothing in. However, the Review Principles suggest that there is predetermined outcome in that regardless of funding level or affordability of the TfL Pension Fund negative changes will be made.
The Board believes that the Review Principles lead to the conclusion that the ultimate aim is to close the fund to new entrants or indeed cease future accrual.
The conclusions reached by the Trustee Board come as no surprise to the RMT as we have consistently reiterated that since the Independent Review findings were published in December 2020 the review has demonstrated that it is nothing more than a deception to cut TfL and Government expenditure at the expense of our members deferred pay i.e. their pension.
Members of the TfL Pension Fund would have received a communication from Andy Byford, TfL Commissioner, on 29th October 2021 updating members on the progress of the review. In the communication it states that “May I take this opportunity to remind you that this is just a review and that there are no proposals to change the TfL pension.” While Mr Byford may believe this to be true, it is very transparent that Sir Brendan and his team have been given an agenda to make cuts to members benefits and reduce TfL expenditure regardless of any clear logic.
This has been clearly articulated during meetings with Sir Brendan and the Pension Contact Group made up of a representative from RMT and other trade union officers. At a recent meeting the conversation led by Sir Brenda led to the question of affordability in respect of the employer contribution.
Currently the contribution ratio is members pay contributions of 5% of pensionable pay and the employer pays approximately six times that amount i.e. a 6:1 ratio. This is predicted to fall massively to around 2.5 to 1 in March 2022.
The 6:1 ratio is made up of future and past service deficit correction contributions ( and is largely the result of a deficit caused by employers taking a 10 year pensions holiday where they paid nothing into the fund) but what Sir Brendan and the rest of the Review panel seem to be ignoring is that there is currently a actuarial valuation underway and as we have already reported it is likely that the results of the valuation will reveal that the TfL Pension Fund will be potentially in surplus or at least 100% funded.
Therefore the 6:1 ration is likely to reduced massively to a 2.5:1 ratio and therefore TfL will make a saving without the need to attack members benefits.
The fact that the independent review sought to ignore the massive reductions from £6 company contributions to every £1 member contribution, which is now to be predicted as ratio of approximately £2.50 company to every £1 member contribution, lead the RMT representative on the group to complain that it was “totally misleading “ and demanded that the reduction would be taken into account. Sir Brendan agreed to this demand but it leaves his claim to being impartial severely tarnished.
The Trade Union representatives on the Pensions Contact Group have demanded that the valuation results are included when considering the affordability and sustainability of the TfL Pension Fund going forward this we understand has been agreed.
Following correspondence from our representatives I can advise that your National Executive Committee on 9th November 2021 adopted the following report:
“We note the correspondence from the so-called independent review of the TfL pension fund.
There is absolutely no justification for undertaking this review which is predicated on the conclusion that pension benefits must be cut and is anything but independent.
This review is a poorly disguised attempt to reduce the employers pension contributions as part of TfL’s plan to make job cuts and attack TfL and LUL workers pay and conditions in what the pursuit of self-funding for TfL.
Once again, RMT re-states our position that no other similar public transport system is able to operate without a public subsidy and we call on the government to abandon this policy before irreparable damage is done to London’s public transport system.
We also call on the London Mayor to stop implementing government cuts and stand up for the working people of London who use public transport and those who work for TfL, LUL and their contractors.
RMT will not accept that our members pay for cuts to TfL or LUL spending and has demanded of TfL and LUL management an assurance that jobs will not be cut and that no detriment will be applied to RMT members’ pension arrangements, pay or working conditions.
This assurance has not been forthcoming, and management is now proceeding to consult us on cuts involving detrimental changes to pensions and conditions and involving a loss of jobs. Additionally, Brendan Barber has written to our union making clear that options under consideration by his pension review include ending the final salary scheme and many other forms of detriment to the current arrangements.
RMT will now begin urgent preparations to ballot members across TfL and LUL for strike action and action short of strike action
We therefore instruct the General secretary to place an urgent report in front of the NEC addressing the following:
The full scope of members in the TfL pension fund who should be balloted for industrial action in defence of their pension rights
Appropriate terms of dispute to enable members to fight for in furtherance of all our demands.
Confirmation that the ballot matrix has been finalised
The General Secretary is further instructed to liaise with the London Transport Regional Council to organise a public demonstration demanding the restoration of the government subsidy for TfL and to defend services, jobs and conditions.”
I will keep you informed of developments.