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Date: Mon 14 Feb 2005

Valentine's card to Scots politicians starts public sector pensions campaign

Scottish public service union, UNISON today delivered Valentine's cards to all Scottish MPs and MSPs. The cards call on the politicians not to 'Break the Hearts' of Scotland's public service workers, and ask for their support in the campaign to defend public service pensions - which are coming under attack from the Government. Simultaneously in London, UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis, will present a huge Valentine's card to MPs across the UK.

Government is reviewing a range of public service pension schemes including the local government scheme, civil service scheme and NHS scheme. Whilst there are differing proposals in each, consistent are the pressures to increase the minimum and normal retirement ages by stopping payment of pensions for those made redundant before 55 (currently 50) and by reducing pension payments for workers retiring after full service if they leave before 65 (currently 60). An attempt to force the pace, by increasing the retirement Age in the Local Government scheme in England & Wales has sparked a strike ballot from the biggest union UNISON, with other unions lining up to discuss similar action. The TUC and STUC are co-ordinating a UK-wide day of Pensions Action on Friday 18 February.

The union says there is huge anger at the impact of these proposals on existing employees - most of whom are poorly paid - and concern about the likely impact on new and younger workers.

Mike Kirby, UNISON's Scottish Convenor said "These proposals break contracts between the government and public service workers. They could condemn workers into working till they drop, or retiring into poverty. We are stressing to Scots MPs that we want them to sign the Early Day Motion rejecting proposals to increase pension age in the Local Government Scheme. If it is agreed in England & Wales then both the Scottish Public Pensions Agency and the Deputy Minister responsible for public pensions in Scotland have said it must be introduced in Scotland. We also want MSPs to be aware that they have a clear role to play, as they will have the final say on changes to Scottish public pensions. We are contacting all our members and urging them to raise the issue of pensions with their MPs and MSPs."

There are a number of events and activities planned around the 18 February Day of activity. The Strike ballot in local government starts today (Monday) and the result is due on the 9 March. Around 90,000 Scottish staff in over 100 employers are being balloted. The PCS has already indicated that it too will ballot members, and other unions are also discussing joining the dispute.


For Further Information Please Contact: Mike Kirby (Scottish Convenor) 07803 952 261(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer): 07715 583 729(m)