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Unison warns of action over pension threat


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.


Readers' comments (14)

  • About bloody time! You took your time with this, didn't you Prentis?

    But why has it taken the loss of our pensions to finally get you to speak up? What about the loss of our increments? What about the ridiculously low pay we already get? What about the piss poor working conditions and lack of enough trained staff? What about the fact there are many Nurses struggling to find jobs?

    Come on, do your job properly and start getting a backbone, and speak a lot louder, a lot sooner!!!!

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  • The GP's are set to strike too, emergency care only.

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  • i used to tell myself that it would be worth it in the end when i worked christmas, easter, missed out on school plays and had someone tuck my kids into bed while i worked nights and twilights.
    now im not so sure.

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  • Mike, I didn't think that we had lost our increments. The cost of living pay rise has been frozen for two years, but they haven't frozen our increments.(yet).

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  • Anonymous | 5-Apr-2011 8:39 pm, apologies, I should have said threatened loss of increments, (and if I'm not mistaken a lot of trusts are still heavily pushing for it), and you are right, there are far more problems to add to that list, including as you say the effective pay cut otherwise known as the pay freeze. My indignant anger at the lack of action on all of these issues still stands firm.

    And Sharon, I am sure. It isn't worth it.

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  • I agree with Mike! Unison & the rcn need to get a backbone and shout out for us! Because I now wonder is it worth it? I've never felt like this, just wish I could do something to stop this dismantling of the nhs and what I can only describe as the de valuing of the trained nurse.

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  • I agree with Mike, The Unions need to do something NOW. If the RCN doesn't get its finger out I will be changing Unions!!

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  • The union isn't 'they' it is us.
    We need to get members to tell their stewards and branches that we are up for a fight.

    We need to build on the activity we saw on the 26th March and get people active.

    Mark, UNISON Steward.

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  • Mark, many of us HAVE seen our stewards, unfortunately the RCN stewards are next to useless because the RCN has a no strike policy and won't do anything anyway, so there is little they can or more accurately won't do. Unison is slightly better, but how many times do we have to tell you all the same things before YOU push these issues to the unions for us? You cannot tell me that the stewards are blind to these issues? You cannot tell me that none of them haven't had their members tell them all of this before? So what are the stewards doing about it? Come on man! Do something! Go to the unions and FIGHT for us!!! Urge strike action! If it doesn't work, shout louder!

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  • Over the years, I've worked with many nurses who put their patients first and felt that taking industrial action was too much to ask, as it would put their patients at risk. I include myself as one who never thought that she would consider industrial action, whether it be working to rule or actually striking. All these years later, our patients, our pay, our pensions...OUR NHS are all being threatened in the most dangerous set of proposals being laid out on an almost seemingly weekly basis. And I feel that we must act to stop these 'reforms'. I've been extremely disappointed at the lack of response from our unions and, like Mike, I have spoken to stewards. However, Mark does have a point. An awful lot of nurses are good at moaning about it...... very understandable, I'm pretty good at it myself........ but want someone else to fight for them. Do I want to go to work, do the job I love and come home at night without fighting for the care of my patients, a fair pay and pension? Absolutely! However, I have to be realistic and be prepared to participate and shout louder!

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