Pensions Strike!

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UNISON General Secretary DAVE PRENTIS (centre) surrounded by local government trade unionists outside Westminster Halls yesterday
UNISON General Secretary DAVE PRENTIS (centre) surrounded by local government trade unionists outside Westminster Halls yesterday

‘UNISON is having a special local government pensions conference in February. The branches have forced our leaders to concede this so we can call strike action,’ UNISON Hertfordshire County Branch officer Paul Meaton told News Line yesterday.

He was one of over a thousand trade unionists from across Britain lobbying MPs over plans to make local government pension scheme members pay more for less of a pension.

The lobby was called by the Protect our Pensions joint campaign by eleven trade unions: AEP, Amicus, CYWU, GMB, NAPO, NIPSA, NUJ, NUT, TGWU, UCATT and UNISON.

Meaton said: ‘We want the same deal as the other public sector unions, full stop. If not, we are going to fight for it.’

However, he added: ‘It’s disgraceful that the union is still considering accepting two-tier pensions like they did with all the other public sector workers.’

He said: ‘I can’t see what lobbying MPs will do, we will have to take national action again.’

Paul Warburton, Greater Manchester Fire Service UNISON branch secretary told News Line: ‘I don’t agree with the two-tier pension that’s been let in.

‘If the government doesn’t back down after this protest, UNISON’s general secretary has said the union will ballot for industrial action. It will be all-out industrial action.’

John Burgess, Barnet UNISON branch secretary said: ‘I’m here to help defend the local government pension scheme against the crime that is being proposed by the employers to rob our members.

‘There is a feeling for strike action and it will grow if nothing is brought to the table.’

Denise Ward, University of Teesside UNISON joint branch secretary told News Line: ‘We want a scheme that will be affordable to our lowest paid members.’

She added: ‘Also, they want to introduce a two-tier ill-health retirement scheme, where you’ve got to be extremely ill to qualify, which other public sector workers don’t have.’

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis told a lobby briefing meeting: ‘We will not allow contributions to be increased for less of a pension. Our members will not pay more for less.’

He warned: ‘MPs will be held to account. In the coming year there will be elections in Scotland and Wales, and there are local government elections in England.’

Prentis concluded by pledging: ‘If we don’t get an offer we can put to our members, we will ballot for industrial action.’