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Mon 19 April 2010

Pensions – private sector cutbacks threaten burden on the state

The action of private sector bosses in cutting staff’s pensions is likely to threaten the UK’s economy, a leading trade unionist will say today (Monday).

Mike Kirby, Scottish Convenor of UNISON, will – at the STUC Congress in Dundee today - point to the closure of large numbers of decent private sector pension schemes, and raise the spectre of a huge increase in benefits demands by their short-changed staff.

Mike will say “Far from the tired old myth peddled by the CBI and the Tax Dodgers Alliance - that public sector pensions are unsustainable, and a huge drain on the taxpayer - the real demand on the taxpayer is likely to come from employees of their own members who have had fair pensions cut, while their bosses protect their own large pensions. The private sector wants the public purse to bail out their employees pensions shortfall, just as it bailed out the busted banks and caused this recession.”

The STUC will call on government to maintain fair and decent public sector pensions, and not to heed misleading calls by the private sector and the media condemning public service workers to reliance on means-tested benefits.

Mike will say, “The real time-bomb for the taxpayer is the means-tested benefits bill, and increased take up of social care and health services to support people who have been shut out of saving for their retirement. We already face such demands thanks to the irresponsible actions of the banking fat cats like those at Goldman Sachs, and the selfish actions of private firms cutting their own staff pensions. Closing public sector schemes would see the bill to the taxpayer rocket by billions.”

The STUC will back a call for decent pensions for all workers, public and private sector, and go on to call for an increased state pension, linked to earnings.