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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Charity at loggerheads with union as pension scheme is dropped

This news post is about 1 year old

Charity questions union's figures

A Scottish charity has told TFN it strongly refutes trade union figures saying withdrawal from a local government pension scheme will see the employer cut contributions by almost 60%.

Unison says staff at Scottish Autism have been left “worried” about their pension funds after the organisation outlined proposals to withdraw from the Falkirk Local Government Pension Scheme.

Officials at the union say the planned withdrawal will affect longest serving staff the worst, many of whom have suffered real-terms pay cuts for several years.

They say the move will see the employer slash contributions by almost 60 % while at the same time employees’ costs will rise by almost 30%.

Unison regional organiser, David O’Connor said: “It is unacceptable that staff, some of whom have worked for Scottish Autism for 30 years, will see their pension income reduce by thousands of pounds.

“These are loyal workers who are committed to providing care to people with autism and their families, and then they are rewarded with pay cuts and their pensions slashed.

“Unison is also concerned that the employer has been providing contradictory information to staff, saying on the one hand it is not about cost cutting, but then implying if the pension changes do not get pushed through then the future of the organisation is in jeopardy.”

“We have requested the employer explain its business case for the proposals, and show its plans are legal.

“So far, we have not received a reply and they seem to want to speed ahead without proper discussion and engagement with staff. Unison continues to demand answers.”

In response Scottish Autism said continuing the scheme could represent significant long-term financial risks.    

The charity explained that since 2017 the scheme has been closed to new members, and the vast majority of Scottish Autism's workforce will not be impacted as a result of the change.     

Directors said its hand has been forced because it faces paying an ‘exit payment’ when the last person leaves the scheme, with senior management stating they have “a responsibility for safeguarding the future of the charity.”

Dorry McLaughlin, Scottish Autism's chief executive, added that the change will enable the organisation to review and develop its total reward package for all colleagues with a focus on frontline workers.

She said: “All pension contributions within the scheme will remain secure and available to colleagues upon retirement.   

“We do not recognise, and would strongly refute, the figures being quoted by Unison.  

"We are committed to making sure colleagues who have been members of the Local Government Pension Scheme have access to all the information they need to be properly informed, to participate in dialogue and to be reassured on their past, current and future pension status.    

"We have a responsibility to act to ensure a sustainable and secure future for Scottish Autism, so that we can continue to provide our specialist services for the autistic people we support."