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Date: Thu 21 April 2011

UNISON: Fight to defend pensions must be a priority

Workers should not be forced to pay a pension tax to compensate for the bankers’ greed, UNISON told the STUC Congress in Ayr on Wednesday.

Gordon McKay, UNISON National Executive member, said: "UNISON will make defending attacks on pensions a top priority," he said.

"Make no mistake - our pensions, as well as our jobs and services, are under attack, from this Tory-led coalition government which aims to make working people pay for the greed of their banker friends who caused the crash.

"But let the coalition government in Westminster not be mistaken either - we will fight to defend our pensions, as we will fight to defend our jobs and our public services."

Public service workers face a range of attacks on their pensions. Changes to how pensions are calculated, from the Retail Prices Index (RPI) to the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), will cut average pensions by more than 15%. There are also increases to retirement age and the abolition of pension protection for workers who are forced to transfer to another employer outside the public sector. But the biggest single issue facing our members is a proposed 50% increase in pension contributions.

Gordon McKay continued: "The massive robbery the government is planning on our pension contributions is nothing more than a pension’s tax. This money isn't going into pension schemes, it’s going straight to George Osborne to pay for the bailout of the bankers.

"In short, workers are being expected to pay more, work longer and get less."

Moving a motion to defend public sector pensions and campaign against unfair increases, Gordon McKay warned delegates of the dangers of forcing a pension’s tax on workers.

He said: "One of the dangers of this pension tax is that in the face of the increased costs they will have to pay, and the poorer benefits they will receive, many workers could choose to opt out of their occupational pension provision altogether. And that could be catastrophic for the viability of whole schemes.

"Attacking occupational pensions will actually result in higher costs for the taxpayer by increasing benefit payments to pensioners who are unable to meet a basic standard of living from their state pension."

ENDS

Notes for editors

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest public services union. For more information on the attacks on public sector pensions log on to www.unison-scotland.org.uk/pensions

2. For more information on our campaign to protect public services, or to download a copy of UNISON Scotland’s manifesto, log on to www.unison-scotland.org.uk/publicworks

3. For further information contact Trisha Hamilton, communications officer on 0141 342 2877 or 07939 478 461.

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