ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Thousands of Unison members voting for strike action

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Unison, Kingston hospital banner on the TUC demonstration on March 26 against coalition cuts
Unison, Kingston hospital banner on the TUC demonstration on March 26 against coalition cuts

UNISON has held a series of meetings across the North West in their campaign to defend NHS workers’ pensions.

Thousands of NHS employees have attended the meetings and expressed their anger at ministers’ proposals, which mean they will be required to pay more, work longer and get less.

Not only have NHS workers endured a two-year pay freeze, they will now be expected to pay increased amounts of £200 to £900 each year into their pension.

Paul Foley, UNISON North West Regional lead for Health, stated: ‘UNISON members are giving a clear message to ministers that enough is enough. It is simply not fair that they should have to carry the burden of paying for the banking crisis, a crisis they did not cause.

‘At each meeting our members have shown solid support for UNISON’s campaign and we are determined to deliver a big YES vote and show solidarity to all involved in the strike on 30th November.’

• Millions of pounds will be wasted in compensation if government plans to centralise Housing Benefit force local authorities into cancelling private contracts and axing staff.

The warning comes from UNISON following the results of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, which revealed that 21 per cent of Housing Benefit services are currently provided under private contracts or shared service arrangements with other authorities, and a further eight per cent of councils are in the process of tendering new contracts.

The move to merge six benefits under a new, centrally run, Universal Credit will lead to local staff offering a face to face service being replaced by call centres and online forms.

Many of the private contracts will still be in place when Universal Credit is due to be introduced in October 2013, so councils will be left paying around £50 million a year in contracts for a service they no longer provide.

On top of this, 98 per cent of councils have merged revenues and benefits systems, including Council Tax collection and Council Tax Benefit, so splitting off the Housing Benefit will lead to a loss of economies of scale and additional knock-on costs.

The UK’s largest union is also saying that up to 20,000 Housing Benefit administration jobs in England, Scotland and Wales are at risk.