Monday, 7 November 2011

Derby Telegraph 7th November: Unions united in fight against government's pension proposals

THE TUC took to Derby's streets on Saturday to raise awareness of proposed changes to public sector pensions.

Unison members have voted to strike on the planned day of industrial action on November 30, with others including the GMB awaiting ballot results.

The uproar is over proposed changes to public sector pensions which would see employee contributions increase and later retirement ages.

The Government had revised its offer so staff currently aged 50 years or over would not be affected by plans to raise the retirement age.

Rob Johnston, the Regional Secretary for Midlands TUC, which is a federation of Britain's trade unions, said: "We are here in Derby to make our voices heard and to get the Government to listen to us. Members from all unions are handing out leaflets and letting the public know about the fight we have. Everyone has come together and all the unions are supporting each other."
Members from GMB, the NUT and Unison all turned out to show their support. Mr Johnston said: "Everyone is in the same boat on this issue. We are all out here in solidarity for every member of all our unions.

"We have had a very positive response from the people of Derby and we hope that raising the issue in the city will keep it at the front of everyone's mind. "People feel let down by the Government. We welcome the amendments that they made to their plans last week but they do not go far enough.

"We want to talk with the decision-makers and we are happy to do that at any point, but they do not want to listen to what we have to say."

Paul Berrisford is a social care worker, working with adults with learning difficulties.
He said: "I am angry that the Government think that they can just dip into everyone's pensions and take what they want.

"I have worked out that I will pay another £8,000 into my pension over the rest of my working life, but I won't see a penny of that back. It's just paying off someone else's debt.
"What they are proposing is just a tax on going out to work."

Liam Conway, a member of the NUT, said: "This issue is not just for the people coming up to retirement to think about. This change will affect everyone. Young people working as teachers now will be living in poverty when they are collecting their pensions; they won't have enough to live.

"They will have to work until they are 68 years old – working longer, paying more and getting less back. Having teachers aged 68 is not good for the children they will be teaching. That scenario is not good for anyone – kids, teachers or parents."

Despite the revised offer from the Government, the planned industrial action is still going ahead on November 30.

Mr Johnston said: "Everyone feels let down by the plans and the planned walk-out will affect hospitals, social workers, police staff and schools with teachers, cleaners and support workers all going on strike. We don't buy into the separation of public and private sector. We're hoping the private sector will support our fight too."

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