Date: 28 March 2006
Huge support for first day of action to defend pensions
UNISON, the largest Scottish Local Government union today welcomed
the massive support from public sector workers across Scotland,
and urged the Scottish Executive to come back to negotiations with
a concrete offer to break the deadlock.
Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary, said "The level of
support for the strike across Scotland has exceeded even our expectations.
Reports indicate that members in local government, further and higher
education, police staffs, Scotland-wide agencies, the Meat Hygiene
Service, have heeded the call and made it clear to government the
strength of feeling LGPS members have on this issue."
Matt, also called on Tom McCabe, to withdraw his threat to early
retirement provisions and negotiate changes to pensions provision.
"Tom McCabe must stop using the Judicial Review to delay making
his decision, and exercise his powers."
He said "Judicial processes can take months, and meanwhile
LGPS members are facing his clear commitment to abolish the rule
of 85. It is all very well to promise discussions, but we have had
these with governments North and South of the border for months
if not years. What is needed is a guarantee from Tom McCabe to treat
LGPS members the same as other public sector workers. This is the
first day of strike action, but should we not achieve a settlement,
then we will be building on this support to repeat and extend this
Today's strikes have caused widespread disruption to services across
Scotland. Schools, offices, libraries and sports and leisure centres
are shut, transport is disrupted and roads and water maintenance
work, cleaning and environmental health services has largely stopped
for the day.
In Edinburgh, John Stevenson, UNISON's Edinburgh Branch Chair
will tell the lobby outside the Scottish Parliament this morning.
"Home carers, road workers, refuse workers, social care workers,
cleaners, social workers, workers who protect our environment, our
health and our safety, who look after the most vulnerable, who educate
who care and who work damn hard to do all this all of the essential
jobs in local government forcing them to work till they drop,
or take cuts in the pensions they have paid into all their lives
is not fair, is not reasonable, is not in the interests of public
services and is frankly a damn disgrace."
In Glasgow, the Glasgow Caledonian University is shut because of
the strike. Davena Rankin, UNISON's Glasgow Caledonian Branch Secretary
said "It is deeply regrettable that because of the unreasonable
stance of the Scottish Executive, the University is closed. People
pay into the pension scheme all their lives and expect the Government
to honour their side of the deal. Members deserve the pension they
thought they were signing up for."
"The proposed changes will lead to a two tier pension system
with lecturers in protected schemes and support staff penalised
for remaining in the LGPS. All we want is the same protection as
the other schemes."
For Further Information Please Contact: Joe Di Paola (Scottish
organiser - Bargaining) 0845 355 0845(w) 07958 121 861(m) Chris
Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)