Unions urge government to drop pension changes

Seven trade unions have joined forces to sign a joint statement demanding fairness on pensions.

The statement, which has been issued by unions including Amicus, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), Unison and the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU), accuses the government of a "breach of faith" in imposing changes to public sector pensions, including a proposal to raise the pension age from 60 to 65.

The statement has been issued just before an expected strike by public sector workers, which could take place on March 23. A large majority of workers voted in favour of strike action in ballots held by Unison, TGWU, Ucatt and Amicus last week.

In the statement, the unions urge the government to "step back from confrontation" and enter into "meaningful negotiations" over the pension changes. The unions have also called for "no pre-conditions" and "no issues defined as non-negotiable".

Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary, said: "This show of unity between the unions demonstrates the strength of feeling of all our members. The changes to the Local Government Pension Scheme have been pushed through by diktat. Our members are angry and will not accept this without a fight."

The TGWU's Tony Woodley said: "The government quite rightly addressed pensions issues in the Budget so it's a shame they mar that good work by bringing in a 'work 'til you drop' culture for council workers. Our members have paid over £8bn into their pension scheme since 1997 and have every right to defend it which is why they've voted to strike. The government should respond to that and negotiate with the unions for a fair future for our people."

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the PCS, added: "Fairness and choice needs to be at the heart of any pensions changes."

Derek Simpson, General Secretary of Amicus, said: "Our local authority members are the backbone of our public services. They earn an average of £12,000 a year, working in physically demanding occupations, and their pensions, which are fair and not excessive, have been one of the few saving graces. "

John Corey, General Secretary of Northern Ireland's public service union, NIPSA, said that they also supported proposed strike action. He said: "Civil and public servants in Northern Ireland, like their colleagues in the rest of the UK, have the right to expect fair pensions after serving the public throughout their working lives. This is why public servants in Northern Ireland are backing the strike. Government should respect that and stop these attacks on public servants' pensions."


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