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Sat 4 Dec 2004

UNISON President calls for campaign of opposition to attack on Public Service Pensions

Pauline Grant, UK President of UNISON, the public service union will tell a meeting of the union's Scottish Council today (Saturday) that the Government's proposals to attack public service pensions are indefensible and promised a campaign of opposition from public service workers.

Following the much publicised decimation of private sector schemes, the Government is now turning attention to public sector schemes, and with little or no evidence proposing extended retirement ages, and reduced benefits - including threats of withdrawal of final salary schemes in some sectors. At the meeting in Glasgow, where all UNISON's Scottish Branches will be represented she will say:

"We are told that public service pensions have to be cut back because they have become politically indefensible as a result of the crisis of pension provision in the private sector. "Well, I'll tell you what's indefensible - and it's not the modest pensions provided by the public sector schemes. It is:

* the contribution holidays taken by many employers when the stock exchange profit was high

* the sickening sight of company directors packing their pockets closing schemes and cutting schemes for ordinary workers Two standards - one for the rich, and one for the rest of us."

The recent release of the consultation document on the changes to the Local Government Pension Scheme, includes proposals for increased contributions but reduced benefits. Here in Scotland, with nearly a third of the workforce likely to be affected by changes to public sector schemes, the threat runs deeper into difficulties recruiting essential workers, potential pensioner poverty, and possible adverse effects on the economy. She warned that the campaign by public service workers had just started but would continue

"We mobilised alongside other public sector trades unions this November in a lobby of the Westminster Parliament. Pauline said. "Many of our branches from up and down the UK were there to tell the MPs - who have the largest pensions in Europe - what they thought about this shoddy treatment.

"UNISON's General Secretary, Dave Prentis, has sent a clear warning to the government to expect the union's opposition - our members must be kept aware of the dangers and encouraged to present that opposition." UNISON will be lobbying MPs and prospective candidates in the run up to the General Election - to ask whether they support UNISON's campaign for a fair deal for pensioners.


Note For Editors and Picture Desks: UNISON's Scottish Council will take place at 10.00am on Saturday 4 December in the Moir Hall, Granville Street, Glasgow. Pauline Grant is the union's UK national President for 2004-05. She has been a member of UNISON and its predecessors for 37 years, and works for the University of Sussex. She will be available for interview before and after her address. Please contact Chris Bartter - phone below.

For Further Information Please Contact: Pauline Grant (UNISON President) 07970 606395(m) Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 07771 548 997(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer): 07715 583 729(m)