UK - Private finance initiative hospitals are creating a two-tier pension system in the health service, union leaders claim.
Public sector union Unison says new recruits are being “shunted into inferior schemes” because they do not have the contractual protection enjoyed by NHS staff.
Policy officer Mark Thomas said: “People who have transferred from the NHS are working alongside people who have a substantially worse pension.”
Thomas claimed there were also instances where members had been forced to transfer out of existing schemes – NHS or otherwise – without any information about their new plan.
But a department of health spokesman stressed there were specific rules governing the transfer of staff under PFI initiatives.
He said: “To satisfy the ‘broadly comparable’ requirement the scheme must be approved by the Government Actuary’s Department.
“In addition, the new employer’s pension scheme should allow staff who are transferring, the option of moving their accrued credits into that scheme on a fully protected basis.”
However, Unison’s report – The PFI Experience: Voices from the Frontline – featured a hospital works engineer in Hereford who accused the government of going against its word.
He said: “The government tells us that the pension schemes are ‘broadly comparable’ even though one is inflation-linked [the NHS scheme] and the other one isn’t.
“Broadly comparable is such a stupid notion though – I’m broadly comparable to any other man or woman; we are both human beings – but very different.”
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