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George Osborne Speech – UNISON response

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said today (3 October) that it was government ministers such as George Osborne who were behaving irresponsibly, by failing negotiate seriously and properly with trade unions over plans to drastically cut public sector pensions.

The union called on the government to turn its firepower onto the real pensions crisis – the scandalous lack of pensions in the private sector.

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said: “Government ministers are behaving irresponsibly, by failing to negotiate properly over public sector pensions. Unions have spent eight months trying to reach an agreement, but so far the government has failed
to budge.

“Strikes are the last resort for care workers, nursery nurses, paramedics, social workers, and many other dedicated public sector workers. They do not want to harm their local community – they go to work every day to make it a better place to live.

“But they have been pushed too far by this government. The plans to tax their pension to pay down the deficit come on top
of pay freezes at a time of high inflation, and heavy job cuts. Enough is enough.

“George Osborne should turn his firepower onto the private firms who give themselves platinum plated pensions worth millions, but shirk their responsibility to their staff. Two thirds do not pay a single penny towards their workers’ pensions, and as taxpayers we will have to pick up the bill in means tested benefit bill.”

Separating the pensions facts from the right wing fiction:

  • Public sector pensions are not gold plated. The average pension in local government is £4,000, dropping to just £2,800 for women – less than £56 a week.
  • In health, the average pension is £7,500 – higher because it includes doctors and consultants, but for women it is still around £3,000.
  • The pension schemes are not in crisis. The health scheme takes in £2 billion more every year than it pays out – this money goes straight to the Treasury, and will plough £10 billion into the coffers over the next ten years.
  • The local government scheme has funds worth £140 billion. It could pay out all its pensions for the next twenty years without a single penny more in contributions.
  • Health and council workers already pay between 6 and 8% of their salary into their pension – making a 3% hike in contributions a 50% hike for many.

For more, click Pensions – busting the myths

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