Opinion Former Article

Unite: One in five in pensions horror

One in five people in the UK are under attack in the coalition's pension’s horror, according to Unite, Britain’s biggest union.

Based on John Hutton’s’ report into public sector pensions, 12 million people in the UK are either drawing their pension after working in public services, are actively paying into schemes at the moment; or have moved to the private or not-for profit sectors after previously contributing to a public sector pension.

With a UK population of 62.3 million, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), it means one in five have a stake in public sector pensions.

Unite’s assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail said:
“This government is sucking the life out of public sector workers and the communities where they live. The coalition government is unleashing a horrific attack on millions of people in this country.

"One in five people in the UK have a stake in a public sector pension. Everyone will know someone who will suffer because of the government's plans, unless we stand up and defend public sector pensions.

"We are urging public sector workers to vote 'yes' for action for 30 November to defend their pension. We are doing our best to reach an agreement with the government, but it is refusing to negotiate meaningfully on any reasonable compromises.

"Public sector workers' pay has been frozen, while the cost of living soars. They face widespread redundancies, cuts and closures, and now the government is coming for their pensions."

Unite began issuing ballot papers last Wednesday (26 October) to approximately 160,000 public sector workers in the biggest ever mobilisation of its members as it battles to defend public sector pensions. The ballot will close on Wednesday, 16 November.

A 'yes' vote will see Unite members take a day of industrial action on 30 November as part of the national day of action against pension cuts.

The union is in dispute with government over its impositions which could see the majority of public sector workers having to pay 50 per cent more into their pension schemes to earn a pension in the future which will be worth 50 per cent less. The proposals will also force them to work for much longer in order to be able to afford to retire, as any retirement before their higher state pension ages will be heavily penalised.

Most public sector pensions pay less than £ 5,600, with many Unite members getting far less than that after years of dedicated public service. Women working in the public sector will be worst hit by the government's plans because they make up the majority of the public sector workforce with many on low pay. Half of all women working in the public sector retire on a pension of less than £4,000 a year.

Unite, represents the broadest range of occupations within the public sector of any union in the UK and encompasses several professional bodies. Members can be found in the NHS, local government, Ministry of Defence (MoD), further education, government departments and also in not-for-profit organisations where many workers still belong to public sector pension schemes.


Contact: Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315.

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