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Date: Tue 4 October 2011

Stop the Great Pensions Robbery - UNISON meets to plan Scotland's biggest ever strike ballot

UNISON The members of UNISON’s Scottish Council - the decision making body for Scotland’s largest union in public services - meet on Wednesday to plan the biggest ever industrial action ballot in Scottish history.

The vast majority of UNISON’s 165,000 members in Scotland will be asked, at the same time as the rest of the union's 1.1 million members throughout the UK – to vote YES to protect their pensions.

The decision to ballot on industrial action was not one that was taken lightly – but members are determined to protect their pensions. Large increases in pension contributions are intended in the Health Service and all Public Sector pensions are being seriously devalued by a change from calculating future raises from Retail Price Index (Retail Price Index) to Consumer Price Index (CPI). This change will devalue future pensions by up to 15%. In addition the threat of a raised retirement age means many face a triple whammy of paying more, working longer and getting less.

Currently the average pension in local government is £4,000, dropping to just £2,800 for women - less than £56 a week. In health, the average pension is £7,500 - higher because it includes doctors and consultants, but for women it is still around £3,000.

In the event of a ‘Yes’ vote the campaign of industrial action will begin with a 1 day strike on Nov 30th. Other unions with members in the public sector are also expected to strike on that day.

UNISON’s Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby said:

“There is a great deal of anger amongst our membership at these attacks on the pensions that we have earned - which are modest enough without being delayed or downgraded. Particularly as all of the money raised through these unfair measures will be used by the Government, not to sustain pensions, but as part of George Osborne’s plans to make ordinary people pay down the deficit run up to rescue the banks.“

“Our members are already dealing with a pay freeze, redundancies, cuts in pay and conditions and cuts in the services they deliver. This attack on pensions is the final straw. We need to take a stand across the UK to say enough is enough."

ends

PICTURE OPPORTUNITY – Wed 5 October 11.20am
Strathclyde Suite, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. UNISON Members will prevent Pensions Thieves Cameron & Clegg (in burglar outfits) from stealing their pension

Notes to Editors

1. The ballot will involve almost all of UNISON’s members in Scotland including , Local Government, the NHS , Police and Fire service civilians, further and higher education, some members in the Community and Voluntary sector, and Scottish Water.

2. The average pension in local government is £4,000, dropping to just £2,800 for women - less than £56 a week. In health, the average pension is £7,500 - higher because it includes doctors and consultants, but for women it is still around £3,000.

3. For further information contact Mike Kirby, Scottish Secretary 07939 143355, Dave Watson, Head of Policy and Bargaining, UNISON Scotland 0795 812 2409.

Visit www.unison-scotland.org.uk/pensions for more on the campaign and strike ballot

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