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Date: Thurs 11 April 2013

Scottish Health Secretary to speak at UNISON health conference

Alex Neil, Scottish Health Secretary, is a keynote speaker at UNISON Scotland's health conference in Glasgow tomorrow (Friday 12 April).

Pay and pensions are key issues he will be quizzed on at the Glasgow event, which will also hear from UNISON's head of health Christina McAnea.

Willie Duffy, UNISON Scotland lead organiser for Health, said NHS members are feeling angry about pensions increases.

"We have raised our concerns with the Cabinet Secretary about the increase in NHS pension contributions," he said.

"The Scottish Government could make different choices and health workers will want to know from him why they should be paying more when they have effectively had pay cuts for the last couple of years. We are calling on the Scottish Government not to bring in the third year of the increase next year, and pay for this with the efficiency savings made by employers."

Tom Waterson, chair of UNISON Scotland's Health Committee, said that other key issues will be concerns about health and social care integration and a call to scrap the NHS Pay Review Body.

He said: "The Scottish Health Committee wants a return to collective bargaining directly with the UK government on NHS pay. The PRB is a busted flush. It is certainly not independent.

"The UK Government's deplorable actions have negated its historical independent role. We will be asking the UNISON UK Health Conference taking place in Glasgow later this month to agree to negotiate NHS pay on this basis."

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1. UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union representing 160,000 members working in the public sector.

2. More than 100 delegates from around Scotland will attend tomorrow's health conference at the Marriott Hotel, Glasgow. The conference starts at 11am, with Alex Neil speaking at 11.30am.

3. Reporters and photographers are invited to attend the health conference, where Willie Duffy, Tom Waterson and Christina McAnea will be available for interview. Please let Fiona Montgomery know in advance if you wish to attend. 07508 877000 or email f.montgomery@unison.co.uk

4. UNISON Scotland's submission to the Scottish Government consultation on increasing employee contributions to NHS pensions is at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/NHSPSScotConsultationResponse.pdf

5. UNISON's UK Health Care Service Group Conference takes place from 22-24 April at the SECC, Glasgow.

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