The government will face industrial action if it persists with plans to cut the pensions of public sector health workers, the leader of the union Unison has warned.
In his speech to the union’s annual health conference today, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis pledged to defend the NHS and the pay, conditions and pensions of its staff.
He said: “I want to make this clear – if the government tries to take away our pension schemes we will gear our union up for industrial action and we will stop them.”
His comments follow last month’s confirmation by the government that most NHS staff will face a two year pay freeze starting from this month and that Lord Hutton’s recommendations to scrap final salary pension schemes were seen by Chancellor George Osborne as a “basis for consultation” with unions.
Mr Prentis also told delegates in Liverpool that the union must keep up the pressure on the coalition to stop the Health and Social Care Bill.
Referring to plans in the bill for GP led consortia to be given control over the bulk of NHS spending decisions, he said: “I don’t know about you, but when I go to my GP, I want my GP thinking about what’s best for me, not what’s best for his budget.
“We cannot rest until the guts are ripped out of this bill,” he added, describing it as a “grenade [thrown] right into the middle of healthcare in our country”.
Yesterday health secretary Andrew Lansley announced that there would be a “pause” in the progress of the bill through the Commons, in order to take into account concerns about the legislation.