Trade unionists will to take part in a day of action on November 30. Gerard Coyne, West Midlands regional secretary of union Unite, explains why.
When the people of Birmingham get the facts about public sector pensions, we think they’ll be on the side of public sector workers.
Trade unions are seven times more trusted than politicians when it comes to the facts about the affordability of public sector pensions according to a recent poll by Survation.
This result was no surprise to Unite, after the Government attempted to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes on pensions. It claimed its latest proposals would protect people, who are ten years or less away from retirement, and said some would even be better off.
Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said a nurse retiring when earning £34,200 would receive a pension of £22,800 a year under the proposed new scheme compared to only £17,300 under current arrangements. He forgot to mention that a typical public sector worker can expect to survive on a pension of just £5,600 a year.
But when Unite’s pension experts analysed his figures they found he was comparing a nurse working for 43 years and retiring at 68 in the proposed scheme with a nurse working for 35 years and retiring at 60 in the current scheme.
In other words, Mr Alexander conveniently forgot to mention the nurse would have to work a further eight years and pay roughly a £1,000 a year more in pension contributions for a pension they would receive for eight less years in retirement.
He also failed to explain that the new scheme could mean a typical pensioner losing purchasing power by as much as 11 per cent because the Government wants to index pensions to the lower CPI measure of inflation.
It’s no wonder that all the unions with members in the public sector have seen overwhelming votes in favour of taking industrial action on November 30 to defend pensions.
Yes, our members will be taking action but they have thought long and hard about this. So, if there is a rally or a picket line in your area, please show your support. This is a defining moment for public services.
In Unite’s three main aggregate ballots of health, civil service and local authority workers, 75 per cent of Unite members voted in favour of action on a turnout of 31 per cent.
Survation interviewed 1,058 voters on the topic of pensions by telephone from November 2-9. The data was weighted by gender, age, socio economic group, geographical region and past voting behaviour.