Nearly three quarters of nurses and midwives are prepared to take industrial action to protect public sector pensions, according to a Unison survey of 2,000 of its members.
The Hutton Review recently recommended an overhaul of the public sector pension system, including increasing the retirement age and member contributions, as well as moving to a career average, instead of a final salary scheme.
In March the government said that the recommendations were a “basis for consultation” with unions.
But the results of the survey, revealed to coincide with the start of two-day seminar for Unison nurses and midwives in York, showed 73% would take industrial action to protect their pensions.
Additionally, 86% of respondents believe the Hutton Review proposals would hit their standard of living now, and more than half said it would affect their ability to stay in their job.
Unison head of health Christina McAnea said: “It is not often that nurses and midwives even talk about industrial action, let alone say that they are prepared to take it. Pensions are a hot issue in the NHS at the moment and feelings are running high about the proposed changes. This survey shows that opposition is building.
“The government would do well to take note of this survey. Public sector workers are sick and tired about the myths of gold plated pensions. A decent pension is surely not too much to ask after a lifetime of caring for others.”
A poll of more than 1,000 Nursing Times readers, published in March, found raising the retirement age appeared to be a bigger issue for nurses than scrapping final salary schemes or raising employee contributions.
Respondents rejected the idea as “impractical”, grossly unfair” and an “absolute disgrace”.