Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far

Union members are committed public sector workers who care for the sick, the vulnerable and help educate our children. They do not take action lightly, but this government is pushing them and their families too far.

Dave Prentis is the General Secretary of UNISON, Britain’s biggest public sector trade union with more than 1.3 million members

It’s blow after blow for the country’s 6 million public sector workers – with pay freezes, privatisation, and job cuts. And now, following the news that millions in bonuses are being dished out in the big city banks, public sector workers face a savage attack on their pensions.

The Hutton report may only just have been released, but the Tory-led coalition has already jumped the gun by announcing a 3 per cent hike in employee pension contributions. For many this is a 50% increase. Health and council workers pay between 6 and 8% of their salary into their pension.

This is a huge hike – you can’t expect people to pay more for less. Two thirds of local government workers earn under £18,000 – this is effectively a tax on low paid workers.

The worry is – and studies back this up – that huge hikes in contributions could price workers out of the schemes and see them collapse. This would push millions onto means tested benefits in their retirement – and leave the taxpayer holding the multi-billion pound bill.

Even retired workers have not escaped the pensions raid. The switch to using the CPI rather than the RPI to calculate pension increases will see their value drop by 15%.

For many in public service, working longer is just not an option – it would be a life sentence of work till you drop. Nurses, paramedics, bin men and home carers are just some of the public sector workers who do physically demanding jobs. The demands of the job can wreak havoc on backs and joints – many are forced to retire early on ill health grounds.

A huge number of myths are peddled about the public sector, the most common claim being that pensions are gold-plated. The facts, however, don’t bear this out: most public sector pension payments are low. The average pension in local government is just over £4,000, falling to £2,800 for women – more tin foil than gold plated.

Another popular myth is that a timebomb of huge liabilities is looming on the horizon, when the schemes will have to pay out all their liabilities. Surely no-one believes that all public sector workers will retire on the same day?

Let’s nail the argument that public sector pensions are unsustainable. The local government and NHS pension schemes were renegotiated three years ago to make them sustainable and affordable. The negotiations dealt with the longevity argument – we know people are living longer.

Both the health and council workers’ schemes are cash rich – with more going in than going out. The NHS scheme receives £2 billion more in contributions than it pays out, and this money goes straight to the Treasury. The local government scheme could fund all its liabilities for 20 years, without a single penny more in contributions.

The private sector – which is failing miserably to provide decent pensions for its workers – gets a huge boost from the local government scheme. It invests more than £100bn in the UK economy, including a billion each in the top FTSE companies.

It’s the private sector, where boardroom bosses secure themselves six figure nest eggs and low retirement ages – but close their staff schemes. This is where the real pensions time bomb is lurking. These are the real villains, and a race to the bottom will benefit no-one.

Public sector workers are being unfairly singled out by the Tory-Led coalition, and are bearing the brunt of the bankers’ recession. On behalf of our 1.4 million members, UNISON is sending a clear message to the government that we are one big step closer to industrial action, and we need urgent and meaningful talks over pensions.

Our members are committed public sector workers who care for the sick, the vulnerable and help educate our children. They do not take action lightly, but this government is pushing them and their families too far.

32 Responses to “Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far”

  1. Andy Bean

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far: http://bit.ly/hDh5Y2 by @UNISONtweets Dave Prentis

  2. UNISON - the union

    Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far. Dave Prentis blogs on @leftfootfwd: http://bit.ly/hDh5Y2 #26March

  3. Hessian Pepper

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far: http://bit.ly/hDh5Y2 by @UNISONtweets Dave Prentis

  4. Mary Maguire

    Dave Prentis on Hutton on pensions – left foot forward – http://bit.ly/fVLGVk

  5. CathElliott

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far http://bit.ly/fB44kM

  6. Neil Wigglesworth

    RT @MaryxMaguire: Dave Prentis on Hutton on pensions – left foot forward – http://bit.ly/fVLGVk <This!

  7. yorkierosie

    RT @Neilwigg: RT @MaryxMaguire: Dave Prentis on Hutton on pensions – left foot forward – http://bit.ly/fVLGVk <This!

  8. James Anthony

    RT @MaryxMaguire: Dave Prentis on Hutton on pensions – left foot forward – http://bit.ly/fVLGVk

  9. Joluni

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far: http://bit.ly/hDh5Y2 by @UNISONtweets Dave Prentis

  10. Daisy H

    RT @CathElliott: RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far http://bit.ly/fB44kM

  11. Alan J Slater

    RT @CathElliott: RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far http://bit.ly/fB44kM

  12. Press Not Sorry

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far: http://bit.ly/hDh5Y2 by @UNISONtweets Dave Prentis

  13. wolflady

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far: http://bit.ly/hDh5Y2 by @UNISONtweets Dave Prentis

  14. Acid Fascists

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far: http://bit.ly/hDh5Y2 by @UNISONtweets Dave Prentis

  15. Spir.Sotiropoulou

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far: http://bit.ly/hDh5Y2 by @UNISONtweets Dave Prentis

  16. Mary Hallam

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far: http://bit.ly/hDh5Y2 by @UNISONtweets Dave Prentis

  17. Mary Hallam

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far: http://bit.ly/hDh5Y2 by @UNISONtweets Dave Prentis

  18. Staffordshire UNISON

    RT @MaryxMaguire: Dave Prentis on Hutton on pensions – left foot forward – http://bit.ly/fVLGVk

  19. Chris

    Action needs to be taken by the unions to change this policy. It will require some thought, however, otherwise public sector workers stand to lose the sympathy of the private sector where more than 50% of the 22 million workers have no pensions at all. Clearly groups like teachers, binmen, firemen, carers, etc have to take the lead as the public see these frontline workers in a sympathetic light. And keep Bob Crow quiet otherwise all is lost!

  20. Mike King

    Prentice: public sector workers are being unfairly singled out by the Tory-Led coalition http://ht.ly/4eeJd

  21. Julian

    When stating “the average pension in local government is just over £4,000”, it would be helpful to be told if it includes workers who have only worked a few years in local government. If that’s the case, the average for a lifetime of local government work would be considerably higher.

  22. UNISON East Midlands

    Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far says Prentis http://is.gd/NBMh7y

  23. Jackie Fleming

    Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far http://bit.ly/gfRzNA

  24. Charlotte Keith

    RT @Jackielive: Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far http://bit.ly/gfRzNA

  25. Mr. Sensible

    Dave, I think there is a debate to be had on pentions across public and private sector as we’re all living longer, but in terms of its reforms of both public sector pentions and retirement age ETC the government is going far too fast.

    And if people are forced out of the pention schemes this will be a faulse economy.

  26. Max Watson

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far http://bit.ly/fB44kM

  27. Adam White

    Prentis busts some myths about public sector pensions http://bit.ly/f6Pjrh a must read if youre trying to get your head rounf Hutton report!

  28. David Mann

    Dave, did you see dispatches ch4 mon,all these cuts & changes are about tory led fat cat private companies,taken over council workers jobs, paying the min to the workforce & paying themselves upto 10.5 million salary for the MD. Once councils use them there’s no going back.The goverment wont release details of these contract as David Cameron said, everything will be transparent. It’s upto labour to raise these issues & stop this happening

  29. Robert Levy

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far http://bit.ly/fB44kM

  30. Richard Lazzara

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition pushing public sector workers and their families too far http://bit.ly/fB44kM

  31. David Mullen

    What people forget is that a lot of services were privatised under labour. Wasn’t it the chief executive of Capita that was given a peerage by Tony Blair? Yet no one from the labour front bench has put their hand up to accept their share of responsibility. And if labour do get back into power they will stil be selling state assets off to the private sector.

Leave a Reply