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Unite announces historic mobilisation of members to defend public sector pensions

Unite announces historic mobilisation of members to defend public sector pensions

Unite, Britain's biggest union, will begin issuing ballot papers today (Wednesday 26 October) to approximately 160,000 public sector workers as the biggest ever mobilisation of its members gets underway as it battles to defend public sector pensions.

The Unite ballot opens from today and will close on Wednesday, 16 November.

A 'yes' vote will see Unite members take a day of industrial action on 30 November as part of the national day of action against pension cuts.
The union is in dispute with government over its impositions which could see the majority of public sector workers having to pay 50 percent more into their pensions to earn a pension in the future which will be worth 50% less. The proposals will also force them to work for much longer in order to be able to afford to retire, as any retirement before their higher state pension ages will be heavily penalised.

In Scotland, the imposed contribution increase has been delayed for local authority workers for the next two years in a deal with the Scottish Government. However, with retirement age extended and the RPI to CPI change still being imposed by Westminster on all Scottish public sector workers, Unite is warning Scotand's public sector workers they will also have to work longer for less.

Unite, represents the broadest range of occupations within the public sector of any union in the UK and encompasses several professional bodies. Members can be found in the NHS, local government, Ministry of Defence (MoD), further education, government departments and also in not-for-profit organisations where many workers still belong to public sector pension schemes.

It encompasses workers ranging from health visitors, pharmacists, blood service staff to local authority refuse collectors and electricians. Unite also represents workers maintaining MoD bases, workers at the Environment Agency, animal welfare organisations, the Royal Mint and advice, guidance and legal centres.

Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey said:

"This is a historic call to public sector workers from a multitude of professions and skills, and across the four countries of this nation, to join forces and say to the government 'enough is enough'. The government is seeking to impose swingeing cuts in our members' pensions and refusing to negotiate meaningfully on any reasonable compromises.

"With the future dignity of millions of workers in retirement threatened, it is time to make a stand and vote yes for action on November 30.
"Public sector workers' pay has been frozen while the cost of living soars. They face widespread redundancies, cuts and closures and now the government is coming for their pensions.

"Most public sector pensions pay less than &pound 5,600, with many of our members getting far less than that after years of dedicated public service. Women working in the public sector will be worst hit by the government's plans because they make up the majority of the workforce with many on low pay. Half of all women working in the public sector retire on a pension less than &pound4000 a year.

"For months we have struggled to persuade ministers that a fair arrangement can be reached through negotiation and we will continue to do so. Unfortunately, ministers have refused to listen. They remain intent on forcing through their proposals. It is time to stand up and be counted in defence of public sector pensions."


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