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Date: 26 March 2012

UNISON protesters lobby Scottish Parliament as industrial action over NHS pensions continues

Health workers will be lobbying the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday (March 27), calling on MSPs to seek a Scottish solution to the proposed changes to NHS pensions.

UNISON protesters will gather outside the parliament as the second wave of selective strike action gets underway in Lothian, Greater Glasgow & Clyde and Lanarkshire Health Boards.

The move is the latest in a round of industrial action on NHS pensions, aimed at increasing pressure on the government for a Scottish solution to all aspects of the pension changes. This includes the year one increases to employee contributions of up to 2.4 per cent – which is effectively a pensions tax on health workers.

Finance staff from across the three boards will be undertaking a full day of strike action. Lunchtime demonstrations will also be taking place on the day at Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride; Wishaw General Hospital, and Kirklands Hospital, Bothwell.

Lilian Macer, UNISON’s Scottish Convener, said:

“We’re calling on MSPs to take a good look at NHS pensions and not to just blindly follow the UK Government’s proposals.

“We have a separate scheme in Scotland and therefore we need to seek a Scottish solution. Taking money out of health workers’ pockets to give to the Treasury is not the answer.

“As the Scottish Government has the responsibility to address these issues in Scotland, we’re calling upon Scottish Ministers to delay the pensions tax and engage with us to find a negotiated settlement.”

Tam Waterson, Chair of UNISON’s Scottish Health Committee, said:

“The sad reality is that many of our members will not be able to afford these increases and will be forced to opt out of the pension scheme altogether.

“Our members don’t take strike action easily and this day of action is yet further testament to the anger and distress that is being felt among health workers.

“We’ve always believed public sector workers deserve decent pensions, and our members have shown they are willing to take action to defend these.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES: You are invited to send a reporter, photographer and/or crew to the following events:

· Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, 9.30am: UNISON members will be lobbying outside of the Scottish Parliament. Interviews will be available on the day with members and UNISON organising staff.

· UNISON members will be undertaking strike action at the following locations:

o Corporate Services Offices, Monklands Hospital, Airdrie, from 9am

o Pentland House, 47 Robb's Loan Edinburgh, from 9am

o Caledonia House, Fifty Pitches Road, Cardonald Park, from 9am

1. UNISON’s lobby of the Scottish Parliament coincides with a meeting of The Health and Sport Committee which will be considering the NHS Superannuation Scheme and Pension Scheme (Scotland) Regulations 2012. The meeting takes place at the Scottish Parliament at 10am on Tuesday, March 27.

2. This round of selective strike action follows on from a successful two days of strike action earlier this month (13 and 14 March) by UNISON members in the Central De-Contamination Unit at Ayrshire Central Hospital, Irvine.

3. The action will be supported by UNISON’s Scottish Convener, Lilian Macer, Chair of UNISON’s Scottish Health Committee, Tam Waterson, along with members of the Scottish health committee and colleagues from Health and Local Government branches of UNISON.

4. UNISON is Scotland’s largest healthcare trade union representing over 50,000 members working in NHS Scotland and related services. Our health members are nurses, student nurses, midwives, health visitors, healthcare assistants, paramedics, cleaners, porters, catering staff, medical secretaries, clerical and admin staff and scientific and technical staff.

For further information please contact:
Tom Waterson, Chair of UNISON Scotland Health Committee - 07753 627 575
John Gallacher, Scottish Organiser (Scotland West Organising Team) - 07904 342 426
Willie Duffy, Regional Organiser - 07904 342 129
Trisha Hamilton, Communications Officer - 0141 342 2877 / 07939 478 461
For further information on UNISON’s pension campaign please visit www.unison-scotland.org.uk/pensions

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