TfL has now announced the timetable and terms of reference for the company's formal review of our pension scheme. We'll know the options they're considering by 31 October, and there'll be "implementation plan" by 31 March 2022. TfL bosses have said that "retain the status quo" could be a recommendation of the review, but this is a façade. The Tory government has effectively demanded pension cuts as a condition of any future funding settlement. The company wouldn't be carrying out the review if it wasn't planning to change things.
The pension scheme is not being targeted because the scheme itself is in any sort of financial trouble. On the contrary, the scheme is in good shape, with high valuation and successful investments. It's being targeted because it's an easy place for the bosses to make cuts, in order to make up for budget deficits elsewhere, caused by the abolition of the government grant in 2018 and the collapse of fare revenue during the pandemic. The message is clear: workers have to pay for a crisis we didn't create with detrimental changes to our terms and conditions.
LU unions must ballot for industrial action to defend our pensions. The most effective timetable for those ballots and industrial actions will be discussed in union branches, in workplaces, on the pages of this blog, and elsewhere. One thing is clear, though: if we wait until March 2022 for the review to finalise the "implementation plan" for the favoured option, that'll be far too late. Preparing to launch a ballot in the autumn is a better timescale to work on.
A laughable postscript is that the review is being co-headed by Sir Brendan Barber, the former (unelected) leader of the Trades Union Congress, who now earns a handsome living as a professional consultant who will, in this case, advise employers on how best to impose worse conditions on members of the unions he used to represent. We'd say this was the act of a turncoat, but Sir Brendan was pretty good at pushing the bosses' agenda even when he was a union leader, so not much has really changed...