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Strike warning over pension reforms


A senior union leader has angrily attacked the government over its controversial public sector pension reforms, warning that talks aimed at averting strikes were now in “jeopardy”.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, rounded on ministers, accusing them of “naive tactics” and a lack of negotiating skills.

His outburst followed an expected announcement from the government that public sector workers will have to pay up to £3,000 a year more to keep up their pension schemes.

Ministers will today set out precise details of the additional contributions facing millions of doctors, nurses, teachers and civil servants.

Mr Prentis said ministers should abandon the “playground games”, adding: “We entered into the scheme specific talks on public sector pensions in good faith and we genuinely believe we are making progress, albeit slowly.

“But these talks are being put in jeopardy by the crude and naive tactics of government ministers who don’t seem to understand the word negotiate.

“The government must take its responsibilities seriously, and stop treating these talks like some kind of playground game.

“Let’s not forget that these talks are about real people, hard-working individuals who signed up to, and pay into, a pension scheme that is supposed to cushion them against poverty in old age. Extra contributions won’t go back into the pension schemes, but straight to the Treasury to pay off the country’s deficit - effectively a tax on public sector workers to pay for the bankers’ mess. That is totally unjust.

“It is totally unhelpful to the progress of these talks to release their bargaining position as though it is set in stone. If it is set in stone, then there is no point in having a single further meeting.”

Unison said any changes to public sector pensions should be based on evidence and not “political ideology”, pointing out that the average pension in local government was £4,000, and just £2,800 for women.

In the NHS, average pensions were £7,500, and £3,000 for women, with members of both schemes paying between 5.5% and 7.5% of their salaries to save for their retirement, said Unison, pointing out that if they did not save, they would end up on means-tested benefits at a cost to taxpayers.


Readers' comments (14)

  • tories are all the same the poor pay for the rich to get richer...its always been like that, always will be

    the people that voted in these morons deserve all they get

    like the article says we are being taxed on our pensions to pay off the deficit...caused by the bankers..whom i might add are still getting millions in bonus payments as we speak

    so lets see we in the nhs face no pay rise..increased pension contributions...increment freeze's...and thousands of job losses, leaving those behiend to work harder, longer for less and less pay....

    why oh why did i go into nursing..knowing what i know i should of been a politician so i could rip the country off with expenses or a banker and get rich regardless of what my actions are!!!!

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  • The talks have been stalled for a long time, with the government already essentially stating they will do what they like regardless.

    So stop warning them! Ballot us for FULL strike action now!!! You know the answer will be yes, so lets do it!!!

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  • We seem to be all talk and no action...Strike - I will believe it when I see it. After 38+ years in nursing, I hardly recognise the concep of the NHS anymore

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  • above should read ...concept

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  • Here we go
    This week announce we pay more.
    Next week will it be increase the age of retirement, and the week after move away from final salary .

    Do this govt understand that just by separating the changes will not fool us nurses. Surprisingly nurses have a few brain cells between them, which is more than this shambolic excuse for a Govt.

    How can they pretend to be in negotiation then consistantly undermine talks. It started with Danny Alexandra months ago and yesterdays announcement of increase contrbuations will only be the first step.

    I will be expected to pay 1.2 % more , Sounds small to the uninformed. This is actual an increase of approx 22% in my contributions as it is 1.2 of total salary

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  • So lets get this right

    Pay Freeze for 2 years
    No Increments
    Rise in Pension payments
    Rise in Gas & Electricity
    Rise in Cost of Living

    Soon I will be out on the streets with my begging bowl as my salary after 34 years in the NHS will not cover all my expenses which are called living !!!!!!!!!!

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  • employers are not responsible for paying utilities bills!

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  • Well I will be retiring in four and a half years when I am 55 while I still have a pension to claim.
    Having worked in the NHS since 1979 as a nurse, as a ward manager finally.
    I will be getting out as soon as I can, while I still have a pension to claim and the strength to spend it!!

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  • If our previous "Rights" are protected as stated by the government can we still have the option of going at 55 even 60. If not surely they are liable if the staff are having fractures (moving and handling our patients) due to osteoporsis of our poor old tired bones or CVAs and MIs whilst on duty.

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  • I agree with Anonymous | 29-Jul-2011 0:49 am, I too, after 38 years in the NHS will be surprised if nurses strike. We talk a good story but do nothing but moan. I'll be retiring in 5 years at age 60 ('cos I'm male and can't retire at 55 on full pension, unlike my female colleagues) and will be running (or hobbling on my zimmer) all the way to the main gate!!

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