Civil servants and health workers in the PCS and Unite unions, respectively are set to strike on May 10 against the government's slashing of public and private sector pensions. Unison, the biggest union, won't be with them.
Other public sector unions could be set to join them in what would be the largest industrial action since November 30th, with union-news.co.uk stating that another date is proposed for the end of June.
Unite national officer for health Rachael Maskell said: “The government is picking the pockets of health workers by an average of £30-a-month in order to pay for pension changes which will see people having to work longer to get less.
“This disgraceful attack comes against a backdrop of pay freezes and the threat of regional pay in the public sector. In the face of continued attacks, health workers will be stepping up their campaign and looking to join other public sector workers in taking action on 10 May.”
PCS national executive members this afternoon voted unanimously to strike.
It means the union will be involved in national industrial action across the civil service, health and education sectors; co-ordinated, targeted industrial action in employer groups and sectors; national and regional protests; and political lobbying.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The ongoing programme of industrial action with other unions we have agreed sends a clear message to government ministers that we do not accept their unnecessary plans to force public servants to pay more and work longer for less in retirement.
“The government must talk to us with the genuine aim of reaching a settlement but if it refuses, we will press ahead with strikes and protests the length and breadth of the country in the coming weeks and months. And we will continue to show that there is an alternative to this government’s cruel and unfair cuts that clearly are not working.”
The action will come a day after the Queen’s Speech, which is expected to include a Parliamentary bill forcing through public sector pension changes.
Unions say the changes will lead to health workers paying more, working longer and getting less.
Around 100,000 Unite NHS members including health visitors, pharmacists and paramedics now face, on average, an extra £30-a-month to pay for their pensions, against a background of soaring household bills.
The pension campaign comes against a backdrop of public sector pay freezes, pay cuts and the prospect of regional pay. On top of which hard-working health professionals are also facing attacks to their terms and conditions and growing job insecurity.
Unite’s health members voted by a margin of more than 94% to reject the pensions’ package. Their concerns regarding the NHS schemes centre on three areas:
• The linking of the NHS pension age to the rising state pension age – which is set to rise to 68 and beyond. Staff in many key roles doubt their capability to maintain high quality care and patient safety at these ages.
• Most Unite NHS members will see their pension contributions increased from 6.5 per cent to 9.3 per cent over the next three years; this coming after a two- year pay freeze and the proposed two years of a maximum one per cent increase for some staff.
• The proposed new scheme will deliver considerably less pension when members retire, or a pension paid only for a much shorter retirement, and pensions during retirement will be further reduced due to lower consumer price index (CPI) indexation.
The PCS national executive this afternoon restated its desire to meet government ministers for genuine negotiations to achieve a settlement to the long-running dispute.
The union has written to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude requesting further negotiations but, to date, has not received a reply.
PCS has also offered to meet Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander in his Inverness constituency next week.
UNISON is currently balloting members on the Coalition’s proposed pension changes, as is the Royal College of Midwives. Some members have criticised UNISON for rushing through a ballot just before members receive their first reduced paycheques. The ballot states to members that the deal on offer, which is unchanged from the offer before the November 30 strike, is the "best which can be achieved by negotiation".
I personally believe that health members are being balloted first as they are more likely to accept the deal than the historically more militant local government workers, who are not being balloted yet. Then if health workers accept the deal that will put a lot of pressure on us to accept ours. I would urge health workers being balloted to vote no and show the government and the union leaderships that we mean business!
GMB is to begin balloting its members next Monday (23rd April), the ballot is due to close on the 21st May.
I have put this article together mostly from this one with some of my own opinions added in.