Fri 11 Mar 2005
MORE TALKS NEEDED TO AVERT PENSIONS STRIKE
See also Pensions Campaign
UNISONScotland the union representing 90,000 Scottish Local Government
employees today announced that their Scottish ballot resulted in
similar massive majorities in favour of strike action as elsewhere
in the UK.
This will result in an initial one-day strike in councils across
the UK on 23 March unless agreement can be reached. UNISON and four
other local authority unions, described talks with Deputy Prime
Minister John Prescott and national employers last night (10 March)
over proposed Government changes to their pension scheme as constructive.
Progress was made and further talks will go ahead early next week.
Although Scottish Local Government Pensions are devolved, the Scottish
Public Pensions Agency and the Deputy Minister for Finance and Public
Service Reform have made it clear in letters that whatever decision
is arrived at in England and Wales should apply in Scotland.
Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said: 'Raising pension
age and penalising hard-working public sector workers will have
an even more detrimental effect in Scotland. The proportion of public
service workers is higher than in England and more families will
be hit. As Scotland also has lower average pay than the UK this
means an increase in pensioner poverty and more reliance on means-tested
benefits. Members across Scotland are angry at the proposals to
tear up their contracts without even proper consultation and negotiation."
Yesterday's ballot results in UNISON, Amicus, T & G, and Ucatt
recorded votes of between 73% and 87% in favour of strike action.
including ballots in Scotland. The five unions - including the GMB
which has held ballots of its members in four English regions -
are angry at changes to raise the retirement and pension age. Feelings
among members who regard themselves as the 'poor relations' of the
public sector are running high.
UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: "Our members who have
paid their pension contributions week in, week out are very angry
and are not prepared to accept changes by diktat. The average local
government pension is just £3,800 a year - not a 'fat cat' sum.
Low pay within councils means low pensions. UNISON wants real negotiations
for the first time on a sustainable good quality pension scheme
which benefits all local government workers and which councils and
staff can afford. Let's hope the LGA and the employers see sense
and abandon these changes so that real negotiations can take place".
UNISON is working with the other local government and public service
unions and the STUC in arranging a series of rallies for the proposed
strike day of 23 March. Further details of these will be announced
[NOTE TO EDITORS - The UK release from the five unions is also
avaialble from Chris Bartter (below) or UNISON's UK Press Office
- Martin Deller - 0207 388 1183 or Ann Mitchell - 0207 383 0717]
For Further Information Please Contact: Joe Di Paola (Scottish
Organiser - Local Govt) 07990 505 698 (m) Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary)
0845 355 0845(w) 07771 548 997(m,) Chris Bartter (Communications
Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)