Women are the biggest group to be affected by government ministers plans to change public sector pension schemes.
After 8 months’ of talks, UNISON has decided to ballot 1.1 million of its members in local government, the NHS, police support staff, the environment agency, water companies and passenger transport executives for strike action.
Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:
“We have found that women are being badly hit by the recession both as providers and as users of services. In the public sector, they face pay freezes at a time of rising inflation, job losses and now an attack on their pension entitlements.
“These women are often low paid and struggling to make ends meet as prices rise and wages are cut; many are single parents. They already pay a sizeable proportion of their salaries into their pension schemes to save for their retirement. And those schemes are already sustainable and affordable. Government ministers want them to pay on average around 50% more, with no guarantee that the money will go into the pension schemes. All but the lowest paid will have to pay what is effectively a tax on public sector workers trying to save for their retirement.
“I have said that we are willing to negotiate anywhere, anytime, but after 8 months of talks, we don’t seem to be making much progress. So we are asking members to vote yes to strike action in the forthcoming ballot.”
Nurses, care staff, teaching assistants, social workers and school meals workers are just some of the women who will be affected by the plans. The average pension for a woman working in local government is just £2,800 a year and in health it’s around £3,500 a year.
The lowest paid already pay 5.5% in the LGPS and 5% in the NHSPS of their salaries to save for their retirement. This rises to 7.5% and 8.5% for those on higher pay. If they did not save, they would end up on means-tested benefits, at a cost to taxpayers. UNISON has more than one million women members in membership.
Further background t: http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=2473