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Ballot threat over 'pay more for less' pension


A quarter of a million nurses will be balloted over industrial action unless the government gives “significant” ground in negotiations on the future of public sector pensions, a union has warned.

Following recommendations made by Lord Hutton in March, the government is looking to bring public sector pensions more in line with those of the private sector.

As a result, NHS staff could receive smaller pensions while their contributions could rise by an average of 50% from next April. Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander meanwhile insisted the public sector retirement age will rise to 66.

A spokeswoman for Unison told Nursing Times the union would be looking for “significant movement from the government” on the plans at a crunch meeting on 27 June.

“It’s simply unacceptable to have nurses and other health workers paying more for less,” she said.

The union warned it was a question of “when” not “if” it would ballot its 1.3 million members - of whom 250,000 are nurses - for industrial action should the government refuse to give ground.

Last week, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said the union would move to a ballot in summer or early autumn if negotiations failed. He said: “It will be long-term industrial action throughout all our public services.”

Unison would coordinate action with other unions, the spokeswoman said.

Royal College of Nursing senior employment relations adviser Gerry O’Dwyer told Nursing Times: “Our view is that the discussions have to conclude and we need to take a view ourselves about where we are after that.”

But he noted RCN Congress in April had said the college should consider industrial action over threats to terms and conditions or employment benefits. “The membership saw pensions within that,” he said.


Readers' comments (21)

  • Hopefully it will also come out to the public that we have a pay freeze so the 50% hike in contributions will sting. And we need to get people to realise that the 3% increase is actually ANOTHER 3% of pay - not a 3% increase in contributions.
    The low level of pensions also needs to be stressed - few staff get anywhere near a gold plated pension due to so many leaving the profession when they have children etc....

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  • If the government would focus on those who do not work and stop trying to get more and more money from those who do to pay for them!!! This we should all resign and claim unemployment benefit like those we are currently working to support!!

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  • perhaps the government should focus on those highly qualified, experienced and skilled nurses who wanted to work who were forced out of their jobs! they cannot spend their lives living on bread and water. tax payers are not only supporting those out of work but supporting themselves as well in case they find themselves in this unfortunately position and one day need financial support. this is what living in a democratic 'society' with a social system is all about. it is also about paying for and supporting the elderly, the sick or other vulnerable members in society as those were able paid for those before them.
    work is a privilege not a right.

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  • Oh I am going to chuck the RCN and join Unison! I hope we get our pension sorted without strike - but i am prepared to strike if needs be. We need to come together and show that we are not the push over that the gov't think we are!

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  • So whas level of care will be expected to give at 66! Bedside nursing is a physically and mentally demanding role, by 55-60 The best of us are burnt out, non of us of any calibre will make it to 66.

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  • Yes! Absolutely! Strike now! This is an absolute ridiculous state of affairs!

    I also agree with others that when we strike, it should be made absolutely clear to the public that we already do not earn enough for what we do, we are already on a pay freeze, which in reality is a pay cut, and WE, NOT the taxpayer pay for our pensions, of which there is a surplus!

    NHS Nurse I am with you all the way, I already left the RCN a long time ago and urge everyone else to do the same. Carter should be bloody ashamed of himself!

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  • It is also an extremely important point that others have made about what level of care a 66 year old Nurse could give (already probably burned out decades ago). And what room will there be for newly qualifieds?

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  • @Mike didn't you know they be expecting us to work at 80(!?!?!)
    SO that when we retire they do not need to pay out much nore for the pensions.........

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  • I am actually happy with the rise in pension age and hope to be well enough to work through to 70! However, I support the principle that whilst I ought to be allowed to work until 70 others should be allowed to retire at the age advertised when they joined the scheme. It should 'do exactly what it says on the tin'... I am joining Unison too. The Rcn sucks...

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  • About time, I think I will also quit RCN and join a union thats actualy doing something even though its taken a long time.

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